5 May 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn’s State of Mind
Posted By Claire on May 5, 2011
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.