Saturday, May 19, 2018

And thank you for coming

What a pretty neck
Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife and the mother of Elizabeth I, was executed on this day in 1536. The charges against her, trumped up by a group led by Thomas Cromwell, were incest, adultery and high treason.

From the scaffold, she addressed the spectators who came to see her beheaded:

"Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.

"And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul."

Following her speech, she was blindfolded and led to the block, where she repeatedly prayed, "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul." As she placed her head on the stone, she began to cry and spoke her last words:

"Oh God, have pity on my soul. Oh God, have pity on my soul."

She did say the famous words, "The executioner is, I believe, very expert, and my neck is very slender," but these were spoken to the Constable of the Tower on the day before her execution.