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The Mystery of Anne Boleyn’s Message to Henry VIII

Posted By on August 10, 2012

I’ve recently been corresponding with a reader of my book on the fall of Anne Boleyn regarding a message that Anne Boleyn was said to have sent Henry VIII on 19th May 1536. The reader had seen the words of this message on a few websites and wanted to know the source of them and why I had made no mention of them in my book. An interesting query and one I thought would be interesting to share in an article.

According to the chronicler Richard Baker, Anne Boleyn called a gentleman of the King’s privy chamber to her as she was led out to the scaffold and said to him:

“Commend me to the king, and tell him, that he hath been ever constant in his course of advancing me: from a private gentlewoman he made me a marchioness, and from a marchioness a queen; and now, that he hath left no higher degree of earthly honour, he intends to crown my innocency with the glory of martyrdom.”

This story and these words were repeated by Sir Francis Bacon, in his works, and historian John Strype recorded:

“The King sending a Message to the Queen Anne, being Prisoner in the Tower; willing her to confess the Truth, she said, ‘She could confess no more, then she had already spoken. And she said, she must conceal nothing from the King, to whom she did acknowledge her self so much bound for many Favours: for raising her first from a ‘mean Woman to be a Marquess; next to be his Queen. And now, seeing he could bestow no further Honour upon her on Earth, for purposing to make her, by Martrydom, a Saint in Heaven.”

In his book, “The History of the Reformation of the Church of England”, Gilbert Burnet, wrote:

“For that same night [18th May] she sent her last message to the King, and acknowledged her self much obliged to him,
that had continued still to advance her. She said, he had, from a private Gentlewoman, first made her a Marchioness, and then a Queen; and now, since he could raise her no higher, was sending her to be a Saint in Heaven : She protested her Innocence, and recommended her Daughter to his care.”

Agnes Strickland also had Anne saying these words in her book on the queens of England, writing that they were Anne’s “last message to the King”.

So, lots of sources to back these words up, but I actually don’t put any store in these words.

Why?

Well, for the following reasons:

  • None of the sources for this message are contemporary – Richard Baker’s “A chronicle of the Kings of England” was first published in 1643, Sir Francis Bacon wasn’t born until 1561, Burnet’s book was published in 1679, Strype’s work was published in 1721 and Agnes Strickland published her volumes on the queens in the 1840s.
  • None of the contemporary reports of Anne Boleyn’s execution record her pausing and sending a message to the King. There is also no record of Henry VIII sending Anne a message asking her to confess.
  • The sources corroborate each other because they are actually based on the same source, they all cite each other!

I assume, and it is only an assumption, that these words are actually based on the letter said to have been sent to Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn during her imprisonment in the Tower. This letter is mentioned by Strype and he suggests that her words are actually the last passage in that letter and that it was not transcribed in full before:

“Another Letter of hers to the King, beginning, Sir, your Grace’s displeasure, etc. is published in the said History. But this Passage following wrote at the End of her Letter, I think worthy to be transcribed, and set here, the Reverend Author of that Book relating it imperfectly.”

He is referring to Burnet who, in turn, cites Lord Herbert as his source. Herbert did indeed transcribe the letter in his “Life and Raigne of King Henry the Eighth” (1649), but he cast doubt on its authenticity and does not include the paragraph about martyrdom. It is not known whether this letter is authentic – it could well be a forgery – but in it Anne writes:

“Sir, your Grace’s displeasure, and my Imprisonment are Things so strange unto me, as what to Write, or what to Excuse, I am altogether ignorant; whereas you sent unto me (willing me to confess a Truth, and so obtain your Favour) by such a one, whom you know to be my ancient and professed Enemy; I no sooner received the Message by him, than I rightly conceived your Meaning; and if, as you say, confessing Truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all Willingness and Duty perform your Command.”

Anne is referring to a message she has received from her husband “willing” her to confess. She goes on to say:

“You have chosen me, from a low Estate, to be your Queen and Companion, far beyond my Desert or Desire. If then you found me worthy of such Honour, Good your Grace, let not any light Fancy, or bad Counsel of mine Enemies, withdraw your Princely Favour from me; neither let that Stain, that unworthy Stain of a Disloyal Heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a Blot on your most Dutiful Wife, and the Infant Princess your Daughter.”

This passage is similar to the words in the message Baker has Anne sending Henry on 19th May 1536 regarding him raising her up.

Anne does not refer to martyrdom in this letter but does emphasise her innocence:

“But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my Death, but an Infamous Slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired Happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great Sin therein, and likewise mine Enemies, the Instruments thereof; that he will not call you to a strict Account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his General Judgement-Seat, where both you and my self must shortly appear, and in whose Judgement, I doubt not, (whatsover the World may think of me) mine Innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.”

You can read the full letter in my article “Anne Boleyn’s Letter to Henry VIII”.

Contemporary Accounts of Anne Boleyn’s Execution

Here are a few contemporary accounts of Anne’s execution, none of which mention her sending a message on the 19th May 1536. I have made them into links so that you can read them yourself.

Did Anne Boleyn Consider Herself a Martyr?

One of the questions I was asked by the reader was whether I felt that these words were in keeping with Anne and whether she considered herself to be a martyr.

This is impossible to answer. Martyrologist John Foxe made Anne out to be a Protestant martyr, but I would argue that Anne did not die for her faith. She was not assassinated by the papacy, she did not die as a woman condemned for heresy, she died as a result of a plot against her. I believe that Anne was innocent of the charges laid against her but the definition of “martyr” is “a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion” and that just does not apply to Anne Boleyn’s death.

I know some of you will point out that Anne wore a crimson kirtle and that crimson was the colour of martyrdom, but red was a popular colour and none of her contemporaries made comment on it being a sign of martyrdom. I believe that it would be reading far too much into it to suggest that Anne purposely wore red to symbolise martyrdom.

So the reason I did not include a discussion of this message in my book “The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown” was because I was concentrating on primary sources and the real events which led up to Anne’s execution in May 1536.

This article is only my opinion on this message and you may disagree, so please do feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Notes and Sources

  • Chronicle of the Kings of England from the Time of the Romans’ Government unto the Death of King James, Richard Baker, 1643, p284
  • Ecclesiastical Memorials; Relating chiefly to Religion and the Reformation of it, Volume I, John Strype, 1721, p283
  • The History of the Reformation of the Church of England, Gilbert Burnet, 1679, p204
  • Life and Raigne of King Henry the Eighth, Edward Herbert, Lord Cherbury, 1649, p382-384
  • The Queens of England Volume 1, Agnes Strickland, p400-402
  • The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown, Claire Ridgway (me!)

Comments on
"The Mystery of Anne Boleyn’s Message to Henry VIII"

44 Responses to “The Mystery of Anne Boleyn’s Message to Henry VIII”

  1. Anerje says:

    I don’t believe Anne considered herself a martyr either – she was not dying for her faith, as you rightly say. She may well have stressed her innocence, and you can’t blame her. But you only have to read her execution speech to realise she did not consider herself a martyr and that she accepted the judgement of the law, as did most condemned prisoners of the time. Anne’s cause for martyrdom was taken up in her daughter’s reign, which again is understandable. For many, Elizabeth was a living symbol of the Protestant faith, and her mother was seen as a heroine for advancing that cause. Anne must have been terrified for her daughter, and it’s something I’m sure all Anne enthusiasts would wish – that she could have known that her daughter would be safe and rule effectively.

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  2. Eliza says:

    I don’t think Anne saw herself as a martyr, but I doubt that she chose to wear crimson ramdomly. We all know she was aware of the power of her image, so maybe she was trying to state that she was innocent. I think that she wanted to make a statement with her last public appearance, maybe not with her words, but with her attire.

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    Claire Reply:

    I don’t think it was random but I have read that red was a popular colour for kirtles just like white underwear is popular today. It’s hard to know!

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    Bess Chilver Reply:

    Red was the most common colour for petticoats – costume historians and re-enactors are not entirely sure why. The next common colour was blue but even this was far less popular than red.

    So, the fact that Anne wore red for her kirtle/petticoat is neither here nor there in terms of sending a subtle message. It was simply what she would have worn anyway.

    Likewise, Mary Queen of Scots also wore a red kirtle/petticoat.

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    VikingMomSD Reply:

    The mineral and herbs used for red dye was and very easy to grow. Madder is the most common source for red and depending on the water quality and minerals a dyer can achieve a range from pink to red to almost orange -red. The The other source of red and was used in royal clothing is Kermes. Kermes dye is derived from the dried bodies of a scale insect found in the sap of certain trees found in the Mediterranean region. The word crimson derives from the word kermes.
    A mixture of madder and woad (blue) creates a reddish purple.
    Red would be a common Colorado like blue jeans today.

  3. Dawn says:

    I’ve definitely read/heard those words, attributed to Anne, before…though it was a very long time ago and I can’t for the life of me recall where I heard them…but actually although I can’t comment as to whether they could be true or not, but I’ve actually always thought it was a great “up yours Henry” from Anne!!!! I’d like to think she did send him a message like that.

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  4. Sherri says:

    Claire

    I personally feel that Anne did leave a message for Henry. Maybe not the one that is listed above or any of the others but I don’t think that Anne could have left this world without a last word to Henry.

    Anne’s character would not have allowed her to leave this earth without a last word to Henry about their past love and her love for her daughter. Anne also based on her character I think that she would have wanted to proclaim to Henry and leave him with the thought that she was truly innocent. That seed would have grown in Henry’s mind. Imagine that one little seed growing and becoming something much larger and putting doubt in Henry’s mind of many people and what their motivates were. Henry would have become more paranoid then he already was. Anne knew him best and would have been able to use his weaknesses against him.

    I think Anne did die also for religion in a round about way – religion had become very political at that time because of the split between Rome and England. Many thought that
    once Anne was gone that papists would have been able to sway Henry back to Rome and papacy. Many of her enemies would have thought that once Jane was queen that she would have influence over Henry in that area but that never happened. I also thought that Jane was extreme Lutheranism only to find out recently that she was a staunch papist.

    I don’t think that was the main reason she was executed was religion but it was part of it. There are so many pieces of the puzzle in that she died for so many reasons that without all the pieces we really don’t know “why” and probably never will.

    I often wonder if there was any one that was witness ( such as her sister Mary or her father) to everything that happened did not document it and leave it behind somewhere. We can only hope that someday somewhere there is a true picture of Anne and some historical documents found so we may uncover the truth.

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    Sherri Reply:

    Just something to add – Anne would have left something whether verbal, written etc, to show Henry that she wasn’t beaten and was still strong. Even though she welcomed death Anne would have died with grace, dignity, determination and strength. She would have wanted people to know that. Dying would have suited her at this stage because she was being raised higher still by Henry and by communicating someway she let Henry know that she was going to somewhere greater than he could raise her to.

    The wearing of the red was probably Anne’s way of rebelling and letting Henry know that she was basically showing him that her fiery, passionate, strong character would remain with the world and remind him of who and why he had loved and pursued her. Like waving a red flag at a bull.

    Did not Thomas Cranmer make a comment about Anne being a queen on earth and with her dying she would become a queen in heaven ?

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  5. Lady Grey Mare says:

    I am always careful about giving an opinion as to the workings of someone’s mind who lived five hundred years ago, but I do not believe that Anne was a martyr by defintion. Regardless of what her feelings may or may not have been.

    There was no reason to kill her. She did not fight Henry like Catherine did and even was agreeable to making her daughter a bastard. My theory is that the crimson and her words symbolized Anne knowing that she was being murdered and making a point about it. In other words, reminding the King and crowd that her innocent blood was on their hands.

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    Peggy O'Rourke Reply:

    The main reason to kill her was to make Henry VIII a widower so he could remarry. If Anne had been allowed to live, technically Henry would still be a married man.

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    Lynn Donovan Reply:

    That would be if they recongnized Anne’s marrage to Anne legitmate, Most people felt Henry’s marraige to Henry as good and cannonical. So when Katherine of Aragon died most ofHenry’s subjects saw him as a widower. And he could marry without killing Anne. The real reason for Anne’s death was the fact She meddled too much in state affairs. Henry basically told Jane Seymour as much when she went to bat for the monastaries. Anne’s fall was much more complicated than we know.

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    Lynn Donovan Reply:

    Sorry silly computer…Anne’s marriage toHenry and second line Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon

  6. Edie says:

    I personally can’t imagine Anne would send a message to Henry that told him that she hoped God wouldn’t be too hard on him for killing a completely innocent woman! That wouldn’t go with her speech on the scaffold in which she said she would say nothing of the judgement against her. She had her daughter to protect and I believe her actions would have been directed towards keeping Henry from taking his anger out on Elizabeth since Anne certainly saw how Henry could treat Mary badly.

    She may have decided to wear crimson to quietly proclaim her innocence but she could have also worn it as a fashion statement and the fact she probably looked good in that color! Majesty was all about showmanship and she would have adorned herself as well as she could to show her status. I don’t think she thought herself a martyr in the traditional sense. Not to mention, it would seem to me that any person who died for their faith probably didn’t see themselves as martyrs either. If you were dying for your faith, you probalby wouldn’t consider yourself worthy of beign called a martyr.

    Just my personal and non-professional opinion!

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  7. Bridget says:

    I do think she chose her outfit to symbolize her innocence and not just by wearing the red kirtle. As Starkey points out, she wore an English gable hood instead of her usual French hood. She wanted to die England’s queen without any mention of the licentious French court.

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  8. Jose Ignacio Pena says:

    Interesting article Claire. Although there are few contemporary accounts of Anne’s execution, none of which mention her sending a message on the 19th May 1536, we may never know. One of the reasons that Henry VIII did not mention Anne that much after her execution could be 1) because he believe in her guilt and 2) because she did send him that message and he did not like it at all.
    1536 is so far way from us, that not everything was recorded and it may have happened, there is a reasonable doubt that this could have beenc done considering Anne´s character also.
    Regards,

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  9. Anne Barnhill says:

    I don’t think Anne considered herself a martyr, though I’m on shaky ground to try to imagine her thoughts on the matter. I do think she understood, quite rightly, that she had to go so Jane Seymour could take her place quickly and without 7 years of hullabaloo. I hope she wrote the message to Henry–it sounds like her, or at leaast my image of her. But I don’t think she did. Wasn’t it found in Cromwell’s things? So, if that’s true, maybe she did write it and Cromwell didn’t deliver it. As for the speech, again, it sounds like her, using her wit to express her innocence and turning the whole execution into irony. I hope she said it. I guess we’ll never know. Interesting article–thanks!

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    Melissa Flick Reply:

    Cromwell turned out to be a slimy one, didn’t he?

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  10. anna says:

    I don’t believe that Anne sent such a message to Henry. As pretty much everyone that was sent to die guilty or innocent never questioned the King so they could protect their off spring/ family. Anne also knew full and well that no matter what she said, it wouldn’t change Henry’s mind, her goal would be to protect Elizabeth’s name and future. As for wearing red, I feel she wanted to go out as royal/regal as she could and possibly without words say she was innocent. I do believe that Anne was innocent of the charges but I also believe that carma came back to her. Many call her a home wrecker, maybe she was..maybe she wasn’t. But we do know of her hatered of Catherine and Mary and had no problem with their mistreatment, in fact Anne probably wanted worse for them. Catherine and Mary didn’t deserve what they received from Henry either. So when he was done with Anne, she was discarded as Catherine was. Henry most likey would have done worse to catherine as he did Anne, but didn’t want to risk war with Spain by killing her. Also Catherines name was untarnished and loved by the people. I read once that Anne was the victim that Henry was 100% the hunter and her the prey. I don’t believe that either. I feel Anne seen his lust for her as a way of advancment and used it to her advantage…she may not of started it but was going to make it on her terms. So if you play the game I guess you better beware of what could happen. I’m not in anyway saying she deserved what she got, but don’t feel she was as innocent as many people claim her to be.

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  11. Esther says:

    In biographies of Mary Queen of Scots (who also wore red at her beheading), they mention that red was the color of specifically Catholic martyrdom … so, maybe, Anne chose it to emphasize, not martyrdom, but her Catholicism? (Anne is quoted by Weir as saying her good deeds would get her to heaven …. not a Protestant remark at all). I don’t think she would have sent such a message to Henry, as it would impact Elizabeth if Henry really got mad at her and took it out on the child (as he did with Mary).

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  12. Joan says:

    I am sure Anne would have written to Henry but I doubt if he would have replied. He had already moved on – to Jane! This poses another question: did Henry actually believe Anne was guilty of was it just ‘convenient’ for him to say he did in order to get rid of her once and for all?

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  13. Bonnie Carlson says:

    I have always considered Anne to be above all else a survivor. I think she was always hoping for a last minute reprieve. But she was also stubborn and hot-tempered, so I have no doubt she proclaimed here innocence until the end (and rightly so!). I think the only thing that kept her from taunting Henry with such comments at the end is that small string of hope that he might save her at last.

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  14. shtove says:

    Hi Claire – good to see a thorough questioning of the sources.

    Google is a huge help in tracking down quotations.

    Nice work!

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  15. Boudicca says:

    Anne was very particular about her appearance and especially this her last public appearance. The color red would be the same color as the blood she was about to shed and the stain on her garment would blend with the color of her clothing. Sounds a little crazy but less of a mess.

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  16. James Harris says:

    Regarding whether Anne might have seen herself as a martyr, it’s true, of course, that Anne didn’t meet the usual definition of dying for one’s faith, but it may possibly be a bit more complex than that.

    I don’t know the precise thinking of the Catholic Church on the subject (let alone the semi-reformist version of Catholicism that Anne seems to have believed in), but certainly in the Russian Orthodox Church one can gain “martyr” status on other grounds.

    There is, for example, the case of two Russian medieval princes named Boris and Gleb who were canonised for submitting peacefully and without protest to their unjust murder by an elder brother rather than risk turmoil and bloodshed in the kingdom and the consequent spilling of Christian blood.

    It’s unlikely that Anne would have been influenced by that specific case (from the Eastern not the Western Church, and far too obscure for anybody in England), but I wonder whether she may not have worn red for her execution as a sign that she was accepting an unjust fate for the good of the realm (and because of her continuing love and devotion to her “good and benevolent prince” Henry !), and was presenting herself as that kind of martyr. It would seem to fit with her speech to the judges at her trial, after her conviction.

    Just my idle musings, for whatever they’re worth.

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  17. Baroness Von Reis says:

    If you go back in time and look at what was about to happen,surley Anne was just as shock as we all are,I never once thought Anne wanted to be a martyr. She died for her child Elizabeth to be sure that she would one day take the throne. She was so right,and therefore she realized this was the only way ,to insure what she wanted ,not Henry he then to wanted this ,women out of sight and thats it and thats all. Marty No.

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    margaret Reply:

    i think would have been in a very bad way emotionally i always thought it a pity that her or one of any of the others didnt say something on the scaffold to make people sit up and take notice anne went too willingly and as for trying to keep the crown safe for elizabeth ,thats what got anne into trouble in the first place ,its a great pity anne just didnt become henrys mistress had a child and lived out her life with her child or children ,this insatiable lust for the throne was the problem it was the undoing of them all.

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    Baroness Von Reis Reply:

    Margaret,Queen Anne was given a choice to give up all rights to the throne and go abroad,and Henry would take care of her and Elizabeth,she refused to do so,as that would make the child a bastard.It was not just the getting of the throne it was family blood line and bastard was something you really did not want to be back inthe day.We exsept fatherless children today,but back then it was not exseptable.So for Anne she was not going to let this happen,and had all high and low sign the act of susestion.Those who would not sign all were killed.It’s much like todays world when we go out in the working world,at least some of us want to climb the corp ladder and see our child sucseed as well .Yes it was wrong that people were not to speak on the scaffold,but Queen Anne did have a few words before she was put to death,although Sir Thomas More was not allowed to speak??He and Wolsy were the King’s best friend for many years, such a pity for all the innocent soul that were put to death. THX Baroness

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  18. I believe there was SO much more that Anne wanted to convey to the public, before her execution. But her daughter was already on very shaky ground with Henry. Who KNOWS how he would possibly have taken it out on poor little Elizabeth. I do not believe for one moment that Anne thought of herself as becoming a martyr. Her last thoughts were extremely unselfish. Her daughter, first, and always, her brother, and all of her friends.

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  19. Dawn 1st says:

    I like to think Anne sent Henry a last letter, of a gentle tone, so as to try and bring out some paternal responsibility in him towards Elizabeth, she knew Henry too well as not to rebuke or accuse him in any way, for their daughter’s sake. I think she would have played to his inflated ego, though deep down I bet she was bursting to give him the sharp edge of her tongue and tell him a few home truths. If there was such a letter, I feel the chances it would have reached Henry would have been slim, for reasons that may have been deemed for the best at that time, by a person/s in power.

    As for the word ‘Martyr’ it always seems to be associated with the religious aspect, I’ve looked up the meaning of the word in a few different dictionaries, and on the whole the definition was based on the religious, but there was one of a couple that I think could related to Anne and that is; ‘An unfortuate person who suffers from some adverse circumstances’…which she did , from the machinations of Henry’s court, so I suppose in that context she could be seen as a Martyr, but not in a religious sense.

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  20. Nadine says:

    Hi Clair –

    Always love reading your articles/opinions and the responses from others.

    In this particular case, until someone finds proof that Anne either did (of did not), write such a letter, it is all conjecture on our parts. However, that is half the fun, isn’t it? If we didn’t have each other the banter with over the topic of Anne and the other Tudors on your site (and a few of the other very notable sites), we would all be home reading the same/similar books and talking to ourselves.

    If just for a moment we presume Anne may have written such a letter I would challenge you on your definition of ‘martyr’. There is more than one definition to martyr. Martyrdom doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to religion although that is the most common use of the word. One can be a martyr to a cause. I can imagine that Anne may have felt she was being sacrificed for not producing a male heir in a timely manner. It would be difficult for Henry VIII to condone his own actions of divorcing Catherine (on the trumped up excuse of marrying his brother’s wife), when the reality was all he wanted was a male heir (and Catherine was too old). If Anne didn’t produce a male heir, she was out – ASAP. Therefore, if the message did exist, I can understand that Anne may feel she was the martyr to a cause – the cause of a male heir – that a male heir trumped all.

    What did Anne have to lose by sending Henry a rather cheeky message? She was going to die, she knew it and she knew why. Getting her final say in may have been her way of letting him know it, too. The irony of all of this is, Anne’s daughter (a woman, God forbid back in the day), became Gloriana. So take that Henry! Henry spent so much time and resources fighting the very thing that proved you wrong throughout history. He didn’t need a male heir to continue his legacy. His sons, both legitimate (and illegitimate), died young with no memorable impact to his legacy (other than Edward screwing over Jane Gray). Henry’s daughters on the other hand are well remembered, both infamous and famous. To this day, people may not understand the history but many, many folks know something of “Bloody Mary”. As for Elizabeth I………well, how many more movies need to be made????? Some w/ Academy Awards or other distinguished honors!!!!! The general population, World wide knows of Henry’s second ‘bastard daughter by that witch’. Many of don’t believe Anne was a witch. Most of us think she was clearly wronged in the relationship and most of us think Elizabeth was one of the best rulers of all time and clearly one of the most influential and famous for the UK. The sad part is that Anne never got to realize her legacy. Discounting the potential letter in question, it would appear that maybe Anne did die a martyr. A martyr to her culture at the time.

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  21. Suzanne says:

    I agree with Bridget that I believe Anne wore red along with the English gable as a message to everyone that she was dying as a Queen of England. I think she welcomed death out of all she had been through and her “silent” message to everyone watching knowing the account of her execution would be reported back to the King. Anne was very picky about how she dressed and very aware of her image and standing. I would like to think she got the last word with Henry but I don’t believe we will ever know for sure. Claire, when you had your dream, do you remember what she wore? Just wondering! :))

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  22. Susan Blohm says:

    Didn’t Anne Boleyn also wear crimsom on her wedding day to King Henry? Maybe as many women of that time did, she considered it “her” colour. No doubt the colour became her. Besides purple, red was the colour of royalty. Anne a martyr? Not to her faith, but yes, indeed to her ambitious family. They used her, don’t you see,If she given the CHOICE Anne would have married for love. Yes, she became corrupted by the power and glory of being a queen. She was very human. Even so, she did love Henry the Man, as well as Henry the King.

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  23. Gill says:

    Even if she sent such a message, it’s hard to imagine that Henry would have accepted it, and really, who would be brave enough to give him a message he did not want to hear? Henry always reacted badly to any suggestion he might be in the wrong.

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    margaret Reply:

    exactly who would have been brave or stupid enough to even mention anne to henry when he just wanted her memory erased completely

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  24. Tania says:

    I have heard these words many times and cannot recall where. It must be fairly widespread over the Internet. My observation is similar to yours Claire regarding the so called KOA last letter to Henry. It SOUNDS like her a lot, and I really hope it is true. If you hold that you believe Katherine wrote the last letter to Henry, why not believe these words? It screams Anne to me. If she didn’t voice it herself it’s almost certainly what the feisty female was thinking! I also think that although Anne wanted to play it proper and ensure Elizabeth got the best life possible, she would have been dying to give Henry a bloody good what for! This was a tactful, amusing and thoughtful note on the last day of life. Who really could resist one last word?

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  25. Shoshana says:

    I do not think Anne would have been so foolish as to send a message to Henry that might increase his anger and then take it out on Elizabeth and the surviving members of her family. The difference in the attitude of the so-called last message and her scaffold speech are vastly different. On the scaffold she made sure that Henry would not be further angered against her and take his anger out of those she loved and left behind. While I like the idea of Anne making a final statement to Henry; I don’t think she was that foolish. If she did send him a message I would think she would have tried to flatter him, boost his male ego by saying no matter what she still bore him love – anything that would insure the safety of her daughter. I love the “my blood shall have been well spent” speech in “Anne of a Thousand Days” movies and wished she had said something to that effect but I do not believe she did and will continue to believe she did not until new evidence surfaces to the contrary.

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    Baroness Von Reis Reply:

    Shoshana, Once again I have to agree with you,Anne would never make the mistake of sending Henry and anger him futher,as he had the choice of beheading her or a slow burnning at the stake.There was really nothing left to say and I think Anne exsepted this fully,as for the statement in ,Anne Of The Thousand Day,I beleave she did meet with the King ,what she said I don’t know,but I am certain it was pretty good.I would of loved to be a fly on the wall in her room. THX Baroness

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  26. Britannia says:

    I think that Anne always thought right up to the very last minute that Henry would not allow her execution to go ahead — that he was testing her right to the end.I read that she looked over her shoulder several times prior to kneeling down to await the final blow.it was as if she was looking for the arrival oof a messenger at the last minute to halt proceedings……..

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  27. Shoshana says:

    As to Anne’s red clothing – I believe she was limited to the clothes she had in the Tower because the King could see no reason for her to have an extensive wardrobe any longer. She probably had little to choose from and the red petticoat may have been the only one or the best of a few for her to wear. Why would the King expend monies on clothing for a woman he knew would shortly die? As clothes were considered a valuable asset and could be sold I seriously doubt if he allowed Anne to have much of her Queenly wardrobe and in fact, I think I recall reading somewhere that some of Anne’s acessories, such as sleeves, were passed to Jane. At the time it was a huge expense to dress royally and Henry would not have “wasted” any valuable clothing on a prisoner he knew would soon be executed. At the end, I believe Anne put together her last outfit out of a limitd choice of items and wore the best she had to convey to the crowd she was dying a Queen of England. The red petticoat was probably chosen as to the “look” rather than any deeper meaning. Anne’s ambition to be Queen had been realized and I’m sure she would have wanted all to remember that while she was being executed, she was dying as a Queen. Perception of grandeur, royalty, and nobiity would have been a strong desire in her on the day she died; one she portrayed to the end.

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  28. Shoshana says:

    Anne was a very smart woman and knew what kind of man Henry was; she would not have sent him a message in fear he would retaliate against her family and more importantly against their child, Elizabeth. She would have known that although Elizabeth had been declared a bastard, there would be those who would later fight for her place in the succession. Nothing would have made Anne jepardize her daughter’s well being no matter how much she would have wanted to respond in some way to Henry directly. I imagine she thought many times of what she really wanted to tell him but knew it wasa vain hope.

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  29. Miranda says:

    Hi my name is Miranda Reed. I believe anne boleyn was an innocent women.

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  30. Jane says:

    Having read both Alison Weir and Eric Ives, I can assure Shoshana that Henry did in fact provide considerable sums for Anne’s upkeep when she was in the Tower, so she would not have been short of things to wear. Therefore I do believe her choice of the crimson kirtle was deliberate. Deep red (as opposed to Pentecost scarlet) is the liturgical colour of martyrdom in the Catholic Church, so I believe that Anne, like Mary Stuart in later years, chose it for her beheading to show that she died in the Catholic faith. As indeed, certain statements of hers in the days before her death prove, and it is thought that she probably had her almoner with her at the end. I do not say that she died a martyr for her religious faith, but that she was a martyr to injustice, and the red bore witness to that (martyr = witness).

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  31. Michela says:

    I have also wondered very often WHY Anne Boleyn kept turning round before her execution…although it was impossible that she would have a last-minute reprieve, why else would she keep turning? I think she might have been clinging on that last hope, so sad…the only other explanation I can think of is that she was expecting someone to be present at her execution that she didn’t see…or expecting some foreign power to come to her aid? Or could it be it was something to do with Thomas Wyatt??

    I also wonder whether her scaffold speech is actually her last words, or some PR for the king, written/tampered with by Cromwell or another of the king’s men…it just sounds so odd that she would describe Henry as a “just and merciful” prince when it was the complete opposite! Even not considering her cruel arrest and imprisonment only months after her last miscarriae, false and vile accusations with numerous men including her own brother, a farce of a trial and her execution, he had been emotionally abusing her for many months with his goings-on with Jane Seymour (and others) and had spoken to her so terribly just after going through the agonies of childbirth of her dead son….I really don’t believe she could have said those exact words, not even in sarcasm, as by that stage I don’t think she could have been in a sarcastic mood….

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  32. shelagh says:

    I would like to think Anne wrote that letter, it would fit my image of her so well. I would love to think that she did not go gentle into that dark night, as Dylan Thomas later said so well, from what we know of her, she was an incredibly intelligent, fearless woman, and it was that feistyness that helped bring about her downfall. She may have been a woman, and not a hereditary monarch in her own right, but she refused to be treated badly by Henry and that is what irked him. She expected fidelity and when it didnt happen the arguments started. Compound that with the pressure on her to produce a male heir and she must have been near breaking point at times. I have always believed that Anne was actually a very moral person, her refusal to take Henry as merely a lover was initially her upholding what she believed morally right, and a way of fending him off. I think it only changed when it became clear that he would actually go to the lengths that he did to win her. I think she did become a little corrupted when power was offered her, but then, so do many. This very fact that she held him off for so long makes a lie of the charges against her, she worked so hard to get where she was, was she going to throw it away for a roll in the sack with a musician? I dont think so. Also, I think she just wasnt that sexually motivated. A raging nympho, which is how they tried to portray her, would have let the king have her straight off. Maybe that was something else Henry didnt like. Maybe the fact that she was unimpressed by his sexual activities rankled. He had waited for years for this woman, she had promised him a good time If and instead she lay there and counted the cobewbs in the bed canopy! Just a thought to throw into the mix. But back to the letter, to me it is just so much what I want to hear her say. I don´t buy into the idea she was protecting her daughter and family, she knew that Elizabeth was at Henry´s mercy and her family had done nothing for her, had even aided in her downfall, why should she protect them? I would love to think she just wanted to have the last word, that she knew she was a dead woman walking and she wanted to leave Henry with a wound that would not heal. As for the scaffold speech, it depends how you interpret it. It could be compliant and submissive, or it could be the most sarcastic, hurtful thing she could have said, aimed directly at Henry. It is noted that Henry forbade scaffold speeches for a while after it, so what does that tell you? And I believe that the red was totally deliberate.It wasnt martyrdom in the religious sense, but it was martyrdom, as others have said, to Henry´s vanity and obsessions. And she would have been making that point. But to be honest I dont think it is genuine, there is too much “hindsight” in it, it fits too neatly into what occurred later, which Anne of course would have known nothing about.

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