Back to the present day (no Lady Claire or Sir Tim) and a look at Anne Boleyn’s state of mind on this day in 1536, three days after her arrest and two weeks before her execution.

Unfortunately, Sir William Kingston’s report to Cromwell on that day was badly damaged in the AshburnamHouse fire of 1731 which affected the Cottonian Library, but parts of it are still legible and can be read in LP x.798. Here are some extracts which I think give us an insight into Anne’s state of mind:-

“[she] sayd we shuld have now rayne tyll she ware [delivered out] of the Towre.” – Some people take Anne’s comment about it not raining until she released from the Tower as proof that she was a witch. Poppycock! It sounds to me like the mutterings of a woman unhinged by fear. What do you think?

“The Que[ne said unto me that same] nyght that the Kyng wyst what he dyd w[hen he put such] ij. abowt hyr as my lady Boleyn and Mestres [Cofyn; for] thay cowd tell her now thynge of my [Lord her father, nor] nothynge ellys, bot she defyed them alle.” – These words show us that Anne Boleyn was well aware of why she had been appointed ladies like Mrs Stoner, Lady Kingston, Lady Shelton, Lady Boleyn and Mrs Coffin to attend her in the Tower. These ladies were not sympathetic to Anne’s plight and had been handpicked to report back to Kingston and Cromwell. Anne Boleyn “defyed them alle” by probably staying silent or ignoring them. Good for her, it shows some spirit.

“[But then upon this my lady Boleyn] sayd to hyr, Seche desyre as you have h[ad to such tales] hase browthe you to thys” – This is the type of unkindness that Anne Boleyn had to put up with during her final days. Here, her aunt is pretty much telling her “you deserve this”. How awful to be surrounded by such spiteful ladies!

“[Sh]e hathe asked my wyf whether hony body makes thayr beddes, [and m]y wyf ansured and sayd, Nay, I warant you; then she say[d tha]y myght make balettes well now, bot ther ys non bot . . . . . . de that can do it. Yese, sayd my wyf, Master Wyett by . . . . . . . sayd trew. . . . . . my Lorde my broder wille dy” – Here, Anne Boleyn is asking after the men and whether someone has made them beds or palettes. This woman, who must have been terrified for her own life, is asking after the welfare of the men imprisoned in the Tower for adultery with them. I find her compassion at such a time very moving. Then, she comments “my Lorde my broder wille dy”, showing that she knows how this is all going to end. I cannot read these words without being moved to tears. Anne Boleyn knew exactly what the King and Cromwell had planned for her and these men, it was just a waiting game now.

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19 thoughts on “5 May 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn’s State of Mind”
  1. I am moved as well.. How hard must have been these final days for Anne.. I wish the papers hadn’t been burnt, so that we could know more about her thoughts in the Tower.

  2. The month of May has turned into a month of reflection and sadness for me ever since I have become basically obsessed with Anne Boleyn. I loved your article, as I love all of them 🙂 However this one did inspire me to write a short passage, on what I can only speculate as to Anne’s frame of mind at the time in the Tower. Love it or hate it, I was inspired by you, and I felt the need to share 🙂

    The rain beats against the window like a drum.
    A drum that beats down the minutes of my sorrow
    A sorrow that must be hidden, for it will show my weakness, when my strength has never been of more importance
    The rain will sound like tears of the angels to my dear brother, for he is to be recalled home too early.
    Angles that will surely welcome us wronged, with open arms that embrace our innocence.
    The rain beats against the window like a drum.
    A drum that beats down the minutes of my sorrow.
    A sorrow for a once great prince, who has been corrupted by his own folly, for whose desire for a great legacy will surely beat him down,
    As it has beat me down,
    Like a drum,
    The way the rain spills down,
    Like a drum.

    1. Good job, Mammabear.. I can imagine Anne listening to the rain from her “doleful prison”..

  3. Poor Anne. She showed so much more courage in her final days that I would have been able to. How she conducted herself in the Tower and on the scaffold shows her to be such a strong and brave lady – which makes her death all the more tragic. RIP Anne, George et al.

    SarahD xx

  4. Anne was an intelligent woman who knew how this was going to end, her fortitude and deportment in this impossible situation truly show her as a great Lady. What she had to endure with her attendant Ladies also show the true calibre of Cromwell and Henry. Shame on them, glory evermore to Anne.

  5. The translation of Kingston’s letters is more detailed in Cavendish’s Wolsey biography than they are in Letters and Papers. I’ve always used Cavendish, and I do wonder which is the more accurate (having never seen the originals).

      1. Hello Claire,
        Sorry to be hazy with the reference, but I don’t have any source material with me. Yes, that was what I was refering to, but you’re right, I can’t see a difference. I have seen a more detailed translation somewhere, but I can’t remember where, and it’s obviously not this. What I saw filled in the gaps more, and seeing your post did make me wonder whether what I saw was correct or whether the translator just filled in the gaps with what he thought was right. I’ll have to check where I saw what I’m thinking of when I’m able. Either that or I’ve just made it up, which please believe me is something I would never deliberately do.
        Sorry for the confusion!

        1. Don’t worry, I was trying frantically to find a different source too but I couldn’t. You should see my desk at the moment – open books and papers everywhere! I know you wouldn’t make anything up xx

  6. For some reason, this year I am more moved by the month of May. Maybe it’s because I am more invested in Anne or maybe I just know more about her to where I feel like she could be right next to me sometimes. This year, though, I feel like we are heading towards something that cannot be stopped. Of course, it’s already happened; however, it’s one of those moments where you wish the day would not come so fast. As if you are digging your heels into the ground as you are being dragged. You want so much for it to not have happened the way it did or not have happened at all. This all seems very silly to me, even as I read over what I’ve written; because it was so long ago—how can anyone feel this passionate about someone you’ve never known or situations you’ve never been in. I just feel very close to Anne now compared to last year and I hate reading of her sufferings more now than ever—though her courage is very inspirational to say the very least. Reading about how she rambled about different things makes me feel so sorry for her because she DID know what was going to happen and she DID know she was innocent but that there was nothing she could do. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would feel like; to be in a situation and know that you aren’t going to get out of it alive. Claire—your articles so far have been very moving. I know you had said that you were getting some slack over it, but honestly I think they are wonderful. It’s a different perspective and while it may sound cheesy, I love reading them then closing my eyes and picturing what it would have been like. What would I have been seeing at that moment? It makes me feel closer to the whole situation—and perhaps maybe that’s why I feel more moved this year! I feel closer to Anne and everything that happened because I can picture it through your words. So thank you for that and thank you for all you do in helping avid Anne Boleyn fans celebrate her life every day! 🙂

  7. “The month of May has turned into a month of reflection and sadness for me ever since I have become basically obsessed with Anne Boleyn” +1

    I feel exactly the same, it’s very strange and interesting how we have this connection with our Ann. And some times I’ve been thinking if there is some possibility , in somewhere, she maybe could feel our fellings as they are. Don’t you?

    I Just love the way and dignity that Anne have had until hers death.

  8. I think the fact that she would never see her little girl again, or know her fate, weighed heavily on Anne’s mind too. She had to know what all this would mean for Elizabeth and it had to have caused her tremendous pain.

  9. This is so interesting…I am so amazed and fascinated with Anne and her story. With May coming up, I cannot help but be reminded of Anne’s final days and her fall. I think it would be so cool to have a conversation with her. I have so many questions that I would ask her. I can’t imaging what it must have felt like to be sitting in the pit of her fear locked up in the tower during her last days.

  10. Claire , I loved this article. But I read somewhere ( can’t remember where ) that Anne didn’t physically move much , not talk & that she was often seen in a trance like state

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