From my newly acquired vantage point, I see her emerge from the west side of the White Tower. She is accompanied by Kingston and 4 serving ladies. An English hood covers her dark hair, which is pulled up as not to impede the effectiveness of the sword. Her dark gown is lined in royal ermine fur and cut low. In true Anne fashion, her unsaid statement is in the form of a bright red underskirt that peeks through her cloak as she walks.
The morning sun is shining a spotlight on her as she makes her way across the green, toward the newly erected scaffold. Upon reaching the stairs, she pauses for a moment and looks up at the sky as if she were mapping her path to Heaven. I smile at her, even though I know that she cannot see me.
Hundreds have gathered to watch her die; some to mourn…some to celebrate. I can see Suffolk and Richmond, and Cromwell, of course.
Standing proud, she addresses those gathered: “Good Christian people”, she began, “I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law, I am judged to death; and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I come hither to accuse no man, nor speak anything of that wherof I am accused and condemned to die; but I pray God save the king, and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler, or more merciful prince was there never; and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and a sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of 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. O Lord have mercy on me! To God I commend my soul.”
I wipe the tears from my eyes, as do many others in the crowd. The silence echoes as she removes her cloak and hood, and then kneels. Her lips move in a silent prayer that rings loudly in my ears, repeating “Jesus receive my soul, O Lord, God, have pity on my soul.”
Without hesitation, the slayer reaches for his sword and then she is Queen no more.
She is beside me now, and we watch together as her ladies cover her and carry her toward the chapel. She begins to cry when she realizes that no one made preparations for a proper burial. Her ladies take care to undress her, clean her body as best they can and then place her in a salvaged elm chest. We remain there together and watch as the chest is lowered into the ground…then covered and left unmarked.
It is only then that she turns to me and says, “I knew I would see you again, dear brother.” I take her hand as we turn and walk quietly into eternity.
By Memory Gargiulo
- The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, Chapter 24 “Finale”, p357-359
- Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words & the Words of Those Who Knew Her, Elizabeth Norton, p208-270