18 May 1536
I have been summoned. I have been summoned by his majesty King Henry VIII of England. The royal messenger came to Calais where I live to order my services to his majesty. Here in Calais I am an executioner and I am known as the Hangman of Calais, but I am surprised that I am being summoned by the king to perform an execution. I am sure his highness has an executioner at the Tower of London, but the messenger said my services are required for a very important execution.
“A nobleman?”I ask.
“No good sir,”said the messenger.
“None other than his majesty’s wife Queen Anne.”
I looked at the messenger in shock. Queen Anne! The king’s own wife. What had the Queen done to deserve death. The queen committed adultery, the messenger told me. The Queen was unfaithful to the King’s Highness and that’s why I am commanded to England to behead his wife. I am not pleased with the deed, but I must do what his majesty commands me.
19 May 1536
The deed is done. Queen Anne Boleyn is dead, I have beheaded a queen. She went to her death with strength unlike the others: she did not show any fear. In all my years as an executioner I have never seen anyone show more courage when they were on their way to their deaths.
It was before the queen’s death that I learned the horrible truth. The queen was accused of adultery with four gentleman of the King’s chamber, incest with her own brother and for plotting the King’s death. Adultery,incest and plotting the King’s death! Was the queen truly guilty of these crimes? I think not. I do not believe the queen would have been so desperate to do such horrible things to the King’s Highness. Why would the queen plot the king’s death when he was the only one to protect her from her enemies? And why would she be unfaithful to the king when she was in the same position as the late Princess Dowager Katherine of Aragon? The queen only produced a girl, the Lady Elizabeth and the Princess Dowager also produced a girl, the Lady Mary. Why would the queen be unfaithful when her first child survived while the Princess Dowager’s first child was a stillborn? Yes, it’s true that the queen did not have a son, but she was still young enough to have a healthy prince.
These charges must have been false for I do not believe the queen would have committed these horrible crimes. I was told that the king showed a single act of kindness upon the queen by having her head taken off by a single stroke from the sword rather than being hacked off with the ax. That’s why I was commanded to come, to rid the King of his wife so that he could marry the Lady Jane Seymour whom he hopes will give him a prince. The execution was swift and I am sure the queen felt no pain.
The queen was accompanied by two female attendants I have never seen the queen before this time and I must confess she was a truly beautiful women. She wore a gray gown trimmed with ermine over a red petticoat with an English-style headdress. Even knowing that death was imminent, she held her head up high, but as she she made her way to scaffold I could see the fear in her eyes, but never once did she take her eyes off the scaffold. As she approached me and gave me my pay I knelt before her and asked for her forgiveness of what I was about to do; she gave it. Her speech was amazing as she spoke with courage and not once did she shed a tear. Then her two female attendants helped her take off her headdress and gray gown and tied a blindfold around her eyes. Next, she laid her head upon the scaffold. Because I was so taken by the queen, I had shouted to my assistant to bring me my sword to distract her. Her head was in precisely the right place and then it was all over. With one blow Queen Anne Boleyn was dead.