May 19 – Anne Boleyn becomes a Queen in Heaven

On this day in Tudor history, 19th May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, was executed at the Tower of London. As her friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer said, “she who has been the Queen of England upon Earth will today become a Queen in heaven.”

In this video, I explain exactly what happened on this day and I also share Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution speech.

And on that very same day, Archbishop Cranmer issued a dispensation for Henry VIII to marry Jane Seymour…

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  1. Anne Boleyn is one of England’s most controversial queens, from the time she left babyhood behind her and went abroad first to the court of Savoy and then to France she made an impact on most who came into contact with her, the effect she had on King Henry V111 is well known, her turbulent short lived but brilliant life constantly fascinates those who have a love of Tudor history, and even those whose knowledge of history is limited, know she married Henry V111 and that she ultimately lost her head, in her own day she aroused deep hatred in many of her detractors and mostly the realm whose loyalty was all for Katherine of Aragon the kings wronged wife, she was abhorred by Catholic Europe for it was through her, England split from the see of Rome and her marriage was never acknowledged by the continent nor her daughter acknowledged as legitimate Princess, she was also blamed for the reform which heralded the decline of Catholicism in England, Henry V111 declared himself head of his own new church and made it treason not to acknowledge himself as such and Anne his new queen and their child his only legitimate air, it was a time of religious turmoil and the sacking of the monasteries and abbeys followed with many dying in the streets and country lanes of thirst starvation and the cold, she was blamed for Henry’s harsh treatment of his first wife and daughter, she was blamed for the deaths of More and Fisher, for the plague even, all this tumult was due to her simply because she said no to the King of England, yet what was it about her Henry found so fascinating, she was described as of middle stature medium height, yet she walked with the grace of a gazelle, she was polished being the product of two sophisticated courts and spoke French fluently, she was also said to have a beautiful singing voice and was musical, she played the lute and the virginals, she was very slender and her colouring was not the waxy fairness of a typical English rose, but she was dark, with dark brows and hair which reached to her knees, her eyes are legendary being large and heavy lidded it was said she knew well how to use them and many became her slave, but apart from her physical attributes she was possessed of a sparkling wit and a learned academic brain, she was interested in theology which was then spreading across the continent and which she often discussed with the scholars of the age, her influence over Henry V111 with this new religion led to the reformation and labelled Anne being called ‘the wet nurse of heresy’, it was something the king himself had a keen interest in, and yet the country was still largely Catholic, Anne was thus blamed for the upheaval which the kingdom went through in the kings quest to marry her, yet was it fair of her enemies to blame her, women were supposed to know their place be meek and servile, and they were also meant to be pure and virtuous, Anne had been taught how to value oneself and if she did not want to be a kings mistress that was her choice and as she told him, she wished to save herself for her husband, but it simply was not known for any woman to turn down the King of England, yer she did and in doing so set in motion the chain of events that made a king discard his queen of more than two decades, bastardise their daughter, nearly plunge the country into civil war and break with Rome irrevocably and the birth of Protestantism was born, her story is fascinating because all this was achieved because she did not wish to be used and discarded, she had a strange hold over the king which led to him saying years later, he had been bewitched yet it was his ultimate choice to marry her and make her his queen, it was not something she had thought would happen, those who hated her ignored the fact that she tried to evade the king whenever she could, but the fact that no one else could have her because of the king, gave her no choice but to accept him as her if not lover, then as her husband, in a way this fiery woman was trapped as the king was, he by his love for her, and she because of it, her glory was transitory her marriage short lived and brief, the king once her devoted servant turned from her and once a man turns cold there is no re igniting the flame, she had burst onto the English court and dazzled it like a beautiful proud peacock and when she left it, it was with the stain of a terrible disgrace, Henry V111 himself was a changed man from when he first met her, then he had been jovial and ready to please, now he had come suspicious more bad tempered and it was noted afterwards he had been more merry with his second queen than with any of the other’s that came after, he was never heard to mention her name in the years that followed and if he ever had any regrets towards her death or those of Weston Norris Brereton and Smeaton and George Boleyn he did not show it, but the court must have changed completely, many mourned George Boleyn’s loss, for he with his sister were two of the most vivacious individuals who had ever graced the court, one can suppose it became almost dull without them, there was also a new queen who was almost like a shadow compared to her predecessor, many families were wrecked with the bloody events of May 1536 and Henry V111’s reputation which had began to disintegrate with the arrests of his former queen and his courtiers, really began to crumple with their deaths, at home and abroad, and he was now viewed with distaste fear and disbelief, it is a view that has not altered over the centuries yet Anne Boleyn has been exonerated of the crimes she was accused of and for which she died, and she left us her greatest legacy, her daughter who grew up to become known to history as Good Queen Bess, a fitting legacy indeed!

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