My name is Jean Robaud. My profession, though nothing to be proud of, provides adequate income to support me, and my skill as a swordsman has eliminated much of the pain associated with executions of condemned prisoners of His Grace, King Henry VIIIth. Having previously been sent for by many royals to execute prisoners, I am now sent for to behead his Majesty’s second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn.
Charges? I have no idea. All I have been told is that his Grace commands I perform the execution, and I have been sent for to assure it is done according to his demands.
England is a long way from Calais, where I live. It will take me some time to get there; but I have no choice. His Majesty has made the command, and I will go to complete the task he has set before me.
My arrival was greeted with the sight of the scaffold being finished, and readied for the Queen to ascend tomorrow morning.
Bales of straw were being strewn about the surface, not only for me to conceal my sword, but to collect the blood that falls when the execution is carried out.
I passed the night in my lodgings, wondering how her Majesty Queen Anne Boleyn would present herself at her own demise, arranged for by the King. It was impossible for me not to wonder why his Majesty would order the death of his Queen. Finally, after a few stiff drinks, I was tired enough to fall asleep. The deed would be done tomorrow.
May 19th, 1536:
The morning has arrived, and I must prepare for the grisly task at hand.
The Queen, I am told, is at the chapel, saying her final prayers before she dies as condemned.
Finally, I see her being led out of the chapel. Dressed in a black gown and cape, her long hair up in a white snood, her Majesty quietly looked at the scaffold, then the rough-box that would occupy her remains. Bravely, she ascended the steps, knelt before the priest for her final blessing, then she stood in front of the crowd.
“My loyal subjects”, she began, “I am here to die having been judged by those committed to the welfare of his Majesty, the King. Having been declared guilty, the sentence has been passed; therefore, I will speak nothing against it. Never was so good a husband, a Master, as His Grace, King Henry, and I ask you to pray for the King. I ask you to pray for his realm, and I ask you to to pray for my soul”.
With that, she looked at me; I asked the customary forgiveness of my intended victim, which her Majesty graciously, but nervously offered in return.
With that, she knelt in front of the crowd, and I was given the signal to proceed. Suddenly, the queen turned again, looking at me. I was shocked, and afraid she would see the sword, or otherwise confuse my aim, so I demanded someone distract her.
One of the people on the scaffold did so. As soon as her Majesty turned away, I completed the deed. One swift, stealthy stroke, and it was done. Some people cheered, some were crying in despair, but there was gore all over the front of the watching throng of people.
As customary, I held up her Majesty’s head for them to witness that she was indeed decapitated. I heard shrieks of horror as some cried out that her mouth was moving, and her eyes were opening and closing.
I said nothing, but quickly put her head down on the straw to collect the blood. Two men lifted the Queen’s body, then descended down the scaffold steps, placing her remains into the rough box. A lady-in-waiting was handed her wrapped head, which she tearfully carried to the coffin.
In typical rough manner, the men scorned her that ‘the execution was done, and the women should get on with their work’.
I felt a strange chill in the air, even though it was mid-May; it was almost as if her Majesty was still present. Dismissing those feelings, I looked over at Cromwell. He had an extremely startled expression on his face, not his usual arrogant look. Suddenly, the feeling the Queen was still present returned. I shuddered, wondering if her ghost was there. Despite having been made welcome to dine with the lot of men at her Majesty’s execution, I quietly, quickly dismissed myself, and headed for home.