Final Days of English Queen Anne Boleyn

About the final days of English Queen Anne Boleyn, biography and history.


ANNE BOLEYN, English queen, consort of Henry VIII

Died: Tower Green, London, May 19, 1536, about noon.

Condemned to death, Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, spent her last day praying in her chamber at the Tower of London. Twice in two days her beheading had been postponed. This time, however, the executioner would end her life for the supposedly witnessed crimes of incest with her brother and adultery with four other men. In addition, she had been convicted of high treason. In a gesture of macabre concern, Henry had declared that Anne should die by a "merciful" sword rather than by the conventional burning at the stake. For the job he had summoned an expert headsman from Calais. Anne was to have died on May 18, three days after her trial, but her queenly bearing throughout the plainly unjust proceedings had brought a large sympathetic crowd to Tower Green. Lord Thomas Cromwell, who was in charge of the execution, hoped the throngs of people would disperse if Anne's death were delayed a day. He also lowered the scaffold in order to obscure the view of the spectators. The tactics didn't work, and on the morning of May 19 the time was changed again--from 9:00 A.M. to noon. Anne complained to jailer Sir William Kingston, "I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain." Kingston replied, "It is no pain, it is so subtle." He was astonished at her sudden burst of laughter as she commented: "I heard the executioner is very good, and I have a little neck." Kingston uncomfortably concluded that "this lady hath much joy and pleasure in death." Anne experienced rapidly shifting moods, but she never lost control. "The people will have no difficulty in finding a nickname for me: I shall be Queen Anne Lack-Head," she told her hovering ladies-in-waiting.

Escorted from her cell to the Tower Green, she mounted the scaffold and faced the crowd still gathered despite Cromwell's precautions. In perfect composure she addressed the people, saying nothing about her guilt or innocence but telling them: "I pray God to save the king, and send him long to reign over you--for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never; and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle with my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world, and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me." An embroidered handkerchief was tied over her eyes, and a linen cap held up her hair. "Madame," spoke the masked headsman, "I beg you to kneel, and say your prayers." "To Jesus Christ I commit my soul. O Lord, have mercy on me," she repeated over and over until one fierce chop of the heavy blade interrupted her voice and severed her from life. As the executioner lifted her head from the blood-soaked straw, some witnesses said that her lips still prayed.

You Are Here: Trivia-Library Home » Final Days in the Life of Famous People » Final Days of English Queen Anne Boleyn
« Final Days of English Illustrator Audrey BeardsleyFinal Days of English Author Charlotte Bronte »
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ - By printing, downloading, or using you agree to our full terms. Review the full terms at the following URL: /disclaimer.htm