Today, I will be raising a glass to Queen Anne Boleyn, who was executed on the morning of 19th May 1536, and also to all those caught up in those awful days in May 1536.

Poet and diplomat Thomas Wyatt the Elder was friends with a few of those who lost their lives that May, and he himself was imprisoned in the Tower of London. I’ll share one of the poems he wrote at that time with you, it is incredibly moving. Wyatt points out that it really did not help to plead your innocence at Henry VIII’s court:

V. Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me inimici mei

Who list his wealth and ease retain,
Himself let him unknown contain.
Press not too fast in at that gate
Where the return stands by disdain,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

The high mountains are blasted oft
When the low valley is mild and soft.
Fortune with Health stands at debate.
The fall is grievous from aloft.
And sure, circa Regna tonat.

These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The Bell Tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

Rest in peace, Queen Anne Boleyn, Lord Rochford, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton.

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