It is 1536. Just in my third year as Queen of England, I now find myself imprisoned in the Tower. Brought from my royal apartments, in disgrace in a barge, entering through Traitor’s Gates, my husband, King Henry VIIIth has believed the horrid lies the court has circulated concerning me, and my faithfulness to him.
Adultery, they said; illicit affairs with Hal’s closest friends, Sir William Brereton, Sir Francis Weston, the court singer, Mark Smeaton. And worse, incest. INCEST! With my brother George, the Earl of Rochford, they have accused me of incest. I cannot bring myself to believe that Hal would want to get rid of me in this way. His closest friends, the men he has hunted and jousted with, feasted with, entertained lavishly; now they are accused of lying with me in my chamber or elsewhere! And Mark Smeaton… the poor, gentle commoner who was nothing to me but the court singer. I wanted him to be the first music teacher to my beloved daughter, Elizabeth. That was all I wanted him for, nothing more.
Henry’s closest adviser, Thomas Cromwell, who learned his treachery under Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, is responsible for my present fall from grace. When Hal removed Wolsey from his position at court, and made him render up the great seal, Cromwell took his place, advising the King in personal and court matters. Wolsey was never forgiven for his lack of keeping his promise that Cardinal Campeggio would grant Hal the divorce he wanted from Katherine so he could marry me. I remember that day so well… Hal went into court, assured by Wolsey that the divorce would be granted. ASSURED! Since Campeggio was not Henry’s subject, but Wolsey was, he assured his Majesty that the divorce would be granted. Wolsey failed. Cardinal Campeggio adjourned the court when Katherine swept into court… my rival, the then-Queen, who refused to issue her appeal at this court. This court was not ‘good enough’ for her. “She would only be heard by and receive judgment from his Holiness the Pope”, she arrogantly said. And Campeggio agreed. He adjourned the court, and Hal angrily accepted his decision, stomping out in defiance defiance from the court. “He SHALL grant the divorce! By God almighty, I SAY HE SHALL!”, Henry roared.
Campeggio, leaving the courtroom, satisfied with his decision, angered his Grace, the King, even more.
Back in private chambers with Henry, I was about to serve His Majesty a cup of wine when Cardinal Wolsey entered the room. “Well, my Lord Cardinal,” I said with an acid, icy tone, “SO MUCH for all your boastful promises!” At my terse comment, Wolsey came before his Majesty, and gradually lowered himself to his knees before him, begging his forgiveness. His Majesty was outraged. Immediately, he told Cardinal Wolsey that he was no longer fit for office, ordering to get out of his sight, hide from his wrath, and demanded he render up the great seal. Further, Hal told him to take Katherine away from the court and house her at his own expense. Hal told Wolsely, “I do NOT forgive you, but I spare you for your past service… now GET OUT!” From there, Thomas Cromwell too office as Henry’s personal and legal adviser, and from there, my fate was sealed.
Wolsey was an enemy of mine, but now he was banished from the court. And soon, I would be taking up residence in Hampton Court, one of Wolsey’s former palace lodgings. Henry and I grew closer and closer, until finally, we bedded together at Hampton Court. Soon, I realized I was with child. Hal was overjoyed! But we still were not King and Queen. Henry soon solved that problem under he advisement of Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell revealed to Hal that if he wanted the divorce the Pope refused to grant, then his Majesty should separate from the Church of Rome, and become the head of his own. And since Wolsey had amassed great fortune, all those riches would become the property of his Grace, King Henry!
Henry convened a special meeting of the court, announcing his intentions to separate his realm from the See of Rome. Cromwell was present, handing his Majesty the documents indicating the people should serve either the King, or the Pope.; they could not legally serve both. The decision had to be made. Those refusing to serve his Majesty would die by his orders.
There stood Cromwell, glowing in his arrogance and pride at being Hal’s ‘favorite’ at the time.
Cromwell. Inwardly, I think him a bastard! But I would not dare say so to his face, or to Hal’s, lest it bring disgrace upon our family. Cromwell, the treacherous, underhanded lawyer, who arranged for the King to present the document pertaining to the Act of Succession, indicating MY child would be the next heir to the throne of England… Cromwell, who arranged his Majesty’s wedding to me, making me Queen of the island. Cromwell. Now, anything Cromwell said, Hal would believe, spelling out the minutes to my downfall.
When my first child was born, I was greatly stressed that it was a daughter; I had not borne the King the son I had promised. Dreading what would happen to me as a result, my fears were temporarily allayed by my father, Thomas Boleyn, who was Hal’s court Treasurer at the time. “You are the QUEEN! Brazen it out! Tell his Majesty, a girl this time; a SON THE NEXT!”, he advised me. So I did. I told Hal that we had a beautiful daughter, and we would call her ELIZABETH. He was angry, I could tell; in fact, he kissed my hand, but refused to kiss Elizabeth, announcing he would do so only when she had a brother.
In my second pregnancy, all was going well until my son was born… dead. I knew in my heart that Henry would have no further use for me now. By now, Elizabeth was nearly three years old, and a lovely little Princess, HEIR to the throne of England, and I intended to see that she received the most proper upbringing in order to ensure her ascension to that throne.
But Hal was bitter. Cromwell… that butcher’s cur, CROMWELL. He was instructed by Hal to find a way to get rid of me… a LEGAL way. Since Cromwell had tied me to Henry, it was now Cromwell’s responsibility to separate us. I had been crowned Queen of England under English law. I should have been immune to arrest and trial, being England’s Queen. But Hal was adamant, wanting nothing more to do with ‘Anne, the whore, unable to give him a living son’. Cromwell set immediately to work, arranging to have me falsely accused of all manner of terrible things. “The people hate her, your Grace’, he sneered, “for being a witch Queen, and for tearing you away from the True Church!” Henry was in agreement. “And rumour has it, your Grace, that the Queen has a lover… in fact, perhaps several lovers!”, Cromwell added. Henry at first balked at any suggestion of my implied infidelity. Cromwell… that bastard Cromwell… kindled further anger in his Grace by saying, “Remember — she has borne you a useless daughter, your Grace, and the son she bore was born dead!”
Henry then gave his royal consent for Cromwell to investigate the accusations.
First, the singer, Mark Smeaton was invited to dinner with Cromwell, only to be questioned regarding why he was so often seen entering or exiting my royal apartments.
When his answers did not suit Cromwell’s purpose, Smeaton was arrested, tortured hideously, and promised his life IF he admitted to our presumed paramours together. Unfortunately, for Mark and myself, he gave a forced ‘confession’ on the ruse of freedom promised by Cromwell. That snake, Cromwell. I knew Smeaton would not be given his freedom. I also knew he was too weak to stand up for himself. It would be too dangerous to keep him alive; they would execute him, regardless of his false confession.
Brereton, Weston .. they were questioned, imprisoned, tortured and supposedly ‘found guilty’ according to Cromwell… although these men confessed to none of Cromwell’s demands.
Next, they brought in my dear brother, George, the Earl of Rochford. George told the court they were all foul liars for their accusing him of lying with me in the bed, and rightly so.
Then, the court, presided over by my Uncle, Lord Norfolk, under the questioning of lawyer Cromwell, began putting his questions to me. ME, their QUEEN. I should not even have been arrested, let alone brought to trial. I was their QUEEN, and as such, should have shared Henry’s immunity to these proceedings.
Cromwell’s attitude was typical of his perverse, sour nature. He put the questions to Mark Smeaton, having been dragged into court in shackles and chains, assuring him that unless he confessed honestly to his crimes with me, that the King would show no mercy in his execution. ‘His Grace’, Cromwell told Smeaton, ‘would have him hung, drawn, quartered, and disemboweled, while still alive. ‘ Smeaton hurriedly made his false confession, both assuring his doom, and mine, along with all the others who had been so falsely accused.
I asked for, and received permission to question Smeaton. But he was so terrified, so in agony from the terrible tortures they had forced him to endure, he could and would do nothing but utter a false confession, all under the pretense that he would be set free for giving a false testimony against me.
It did him no good; he was still executed.
Fortunately, Henry did not have Smeaton hung, drawn, and quartered, the execution usually reserved for commoners who commit treason. But he did have him beheaded.
Brereton, and Weston were beheaded, as was my poor brother.. my poor INNOCENT brother, George. ALL because of that BASTARD CROMWELL’s lies and false allegations, which Henry chose to believe. And for what? So he could marry that simpleton; that weak-minded, blushing, adoring little harlot, JANE SEYMOUR!
Whilst in my prison apartments, Hal came to see me. I was delighted with his Grace’s visit. But, his Grace had an ulterior motive in mind: he assured me safety, comfort, and my life IF I would give him the divorce he demanded, and give up all rights to my daughter’s ascension to the throne, having her declared a bastard. I strongly refused. Hal was filled with wrath at my refusal, and he swiftly assured me I would face death if I did not comply. Having told him I will NOT have Elizabeth declared a bastard, and giving up her right to the throne of England, his Grace left me, angry, slamming the cell doors and giving me a glare that could kill me on the spot had he the power to do so.
As I recall all that has gone on in my life as Queen of England, I am now awaiting my own execution. Henry sent for an executioner from Calais, France. He uses a sword; much swifter, less painless, I’m told.
I look out my prison window, only to see the scaffold being built, knowing my life will soon be forfeit, thanks to Cromwell, that lecherous BASTARD, Cromwell. Cromwell, who arranged my marriage to his Grace, Henry VIIIth…. and, through skillful manipulation, lies, and heresy, also has arranged my untimely demise.
Now, the 19th of May, the guards have arrived to allow me to go to the chapel to say my final prayers before I die under the power of the sword. I am utterly terrified that something may go wrong. What if the swordsman is not as accurate, painless, and quick as I have been led to believe? What if it takes several strokes of the sword, and not just one? I will never see my beloved little Elizabeth again; never see her grow up, or crowned. But I am still England’s Queen. Until my last breath. I am forced to put on a brave front.
However, I will leave this world with the absolute promise: “MY ELIZABETH SHALL BE QUEEN!”