Anne Boleyn’s Final Journey

Anne Boleyn, by an anonymous painter. Hever Castle, Kent.

Early on the morning of 19 May 1536, Anne Boleyn, resplendent in a grey damask gown lined with fur, made her final journey from the Queen’s Apartments at the Tower of London, where she’d been imprisoned for the last 17 days, to the site of the scaffold. Escorted by Sir William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, and four attendants, she made her way past the now lost King’s Hall, the setting of her lavish coronation festivities just three years earlier, and, more recently, her and her brother George’s sensational trials, where the Earl of Northumberland had collapsed after giving his guilty verdict against the woman he’d once loved and hoped to marry. Anne continued her solemn walk through the Cold Harbour Gate, to the open ground north of the White Tower, where a French executioner awaited her.

Around 1,000 people had gathered to see the first English queen beheaded. Among the spectators were men Anne knew well, including her teenaged step-son, Henry Fitzroy, who had only a couple of months to live; Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, whom Anne had known since she herself was a teenager in attendance on Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, in France, and Thomas Cromwell, who’d soared to power with Anne’s support but who’d later turned against her.

After addressing the hushed onlookers, Anne went to her death with the same courage that she’d shown in life. Following Tudor scaffold etiquette to a tee, she did not protest against the king or the terribly unjust sentence, ‘For according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore, will speak nothing against it… 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 a sovereign lord.’ While Anne had not publicly protested her innocence, neither had she confessed to any great sin or wrongdoing, or admitted to deserving death for the crimes alleged against her. It’s what Anne omitted to say that spoke the loudest, especially to a Tudor audience, adept at reading between the lines. Anne Boleyn had subtly proclaimed her innocence, and news spread quickly around London that she’d died ‘boldly’.

Anne’s ladies covered their mistress with a sheet and carried her remains from the scaffold to the chapel of St Peter, within the Tower precinct, where they were placed in an elm chest and buried in the chancel, beside the remains of Anne’s brother George Boleyn. There they remain to this day.

Today marks the 481st anniversary of Anne’s death. 481 years since those ‘bloody days’, which broke the hearts and lives of many, as recalled by Thomas Wyatt in his poem ‘Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me itimici me’. The court turned their backs on Anne Boleyn, and on those condemned alongside her: George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton, however, they are not forgotten. Each year on this day, flowers are delivered to the Tower of London to lay on Anne’s grave and many people, including myself, commemorate her in some way. Funny that we can feel such a strong connection to a person that lived so long ago. In the preface to what remains the best full-length biography of Anne Boleyn, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, the late Professor Eric Ives described Anne ‘as the third woman in my life, after my immediate family’, a sentiment I completely understand. It’s been years now since I first encountered her, yet my fascination continues to grow, as do the questions. Perhaps the most perplexing, why did she have to die? Best left to a future discussion, except to say that I think the fact that Henry saw no other solution, and was willing to sacrifice the lives of men he knew well, is a testament not to her guilt, but to her sheer intellect and wit, and as Eric Ives described, her calibre.

There’s much to admire about Anne, like her intelligence and courage, and the fact that she fought for what she believed in and voiced her opinions in a century when women, especially queen consorts, were expected to be submissive and silent. She was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but who among us is?

To celebrate the life of this remarkable woman, and thanks to the generosity of my publisher, The History Press, I’d like to give away a copy of ‘Colouring History: The Tudors’ to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment after this post. Conditions of entry below.

Good luck!

Conditions of Entry

For your chance to win a copy of Colouring History: The Tudors, you must be subscribed to On the Tudor Trail’s newsletter (if you are not already, sign up on our homepage where it says ‘Free Enewsletter Subscription’).

Then simply leave a comment after this post between now and 24 May 2017. Don’t forget to leave your name and a contact email. Please note that I have comment moderation activated and need to ‘approve’ comments before they appear. There is no need to submit your comment twice.

This giveaway is open internationally.

A winner will be selected randomly and contacted by email shortly after the competition closes. Please ensure you’ve added to your address book to avoid missing my email.

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  1. Alexandra smith says:

    Would Love a copy of this!??

  2. Thank you for the chance to win this book! I will be thinking about Anne today. ?

  3. Shannon says:

    Would love to win this

  4. Winning the book would be lovely 🙂 thank you for allowing me to participate.

  5. Shannon says:

    Great book

  6. Catarina Figueiredo says:

    Beautifuly written.
    A lovely woman that, just like all humanity was flawed.
    I myself light up a candle under her name each passing year. And i’m in Portugal.
    She is now part of alot of people’s hearts.

  7. It’s crucial that we keep the memory of Anne and the Five alive and well. Kudos to you and the other history buffs dedicated to her! I know I’ve become one of them. x

  8. Wearing my Anne Boleyn shirt today in memorial would love to win the coloring book

  9. I would love to read more about the Tudors..

  10. Victoria says:

    I would love this colouring book to bring Tudor court to life! This is
    a wonderful post for Anne Boleyn Day! ??

  11. Judith Bexn says:

    Thinking of Anne today. she is one of the most fascinating women in the Tudor era. I love Tudor history and love reading any historical books especially set in Tudor times so I would just love to win a copy of this, thank you for the opportunity. Fingers crossed

  12. Jessica says:

    I hope to win this, I love Anne <3

  13. Judith Bexon says:

    Would love to win this, I love everything about Tudor history,of course am thinking of Anne today,she was one of the most fascinating women of the Tudor era. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy. Fingers crossed

  14. Claudia Mathy says:

    Great Article. I just love reading about the Tudors. Anne Boleyn,what a great Lady.

  15. M. Ferguson says:

    Would love this! Anne is one of my favourites. Such a fascinating woman.

  16. Dawn 1st says:

    In Memory of Queen Anne Boleyn, a life taken for the want of others.
    Never would they have realised the impact this Lady’s execution would have throughout history, or that her daughter would be the Queen of England, and a greater monarch than many who had held that position before her.
    A legacy that none of Anne’s aggressors could ever match, a legacy they actually they had a hand in….how Anne would smile at that.

  17. Andrea Fontaine says:

    Such a lovely book!

  18. Morgane Brierly says:

    Would love this to spend my days colouring! And it would go perfectly with my growing Anne Boleyn book collection ??

  19. Jemma Robertson says:

    I would love this x

  20. Chloe Murphy says:

    Anne is by far my favourite queen. I’ve always felt a connection to her and always feel mournful on this day!
    (P.S I need that colouring book to fuel my Tudor obsession even more!)

  21. Colleen says:

    My love for the medieval/Renaissance era started as a child, but was fueled in 9th grade when my Social Studies class studied the Tudor era. I was fascinated by them and their lives. I do Renaissance re enactments and my favorite is Anne Boleyn. I wear her B necklace proudly and by channeling her, I hope to keep her memory alive for those who see me at faire. I enjoy colouring and this book would be a wonderful addition to my collection. Thank Thee, Lady Fiona

  22. Alberto Lozano says:

    Anne Boleyn have been and will be always in my heart and mind. It is still terrible to read about herndeath. I feel deeply saddened by the way she was executed, but at the same time I believe that she still is alive in our lives.

  23. Maj Gabrielsen says:

    Wow, it would be great to win this beautiful book

  24. Anne Marie Gazerro says:

    Huh, I was just telling someone about this coloring book yesterday!

  25. Mary Svare says:

    I would love to win this book! The Tudors have always fascinated me.

  26. Denise Hansen says:

    Such a great idea – colouring the Tudors! Would love to have this.

  27. Jessica Knight says:

    Thank you for the wonderful articles and the chance to win the coloring book

  28. Aimee Rebstock says:

    I love that I discovered this site!

  29. Hope we win! Love your blog. Maybe we can collaborate some time 🙂

  30. Erica Morin says:

    Tahnks for the giveaway. Would love to have this!

  31. pam Shakespeare says:

    Thank you for for such and interesting and informative website. I really enjoy reading everyday. so many posts as well in my saved on facebook which help out on a rainy day 🙂 keep up the great work.

  32. Brigette Dugan says:

    This would be amazing!!!!

  33. Catherine says:

    Love the Queen.

  34. Raven Allen says:

    This looks awesome and I would love a chance to enter.

  35. Tim Brouwers says:

    Anne Boleyn has been so badly treated by history.
    I would love this coloring book.

  36. Tina Samuels says:

    Looks like a wonderful site. I just joined and look forward to the posts and a chance to win the book.

  37. Tasha middleton says:

    Sharpening my pencils! Would be fantastic to have!

  38. Rachel simpson says:

    This would be great. Been obsessed with tudors since I was a child ? it’s nice to finally see so many others with the same passion about them ?

  39. Debbie Khoury says:

    Really enjoy reading Tudor novels and appreciate the chance to win the lovely coloring book.

  40. Melissa Walker says:

    Thank you for the giveaway, a great book for any true Tudor fan!

  41. Michelle Nasello says:

    I’ve been to several places in London where Queen Anne would have probably went. So fascinating to be at The Tower and across the road at Tower Hill. I’ve seen the grave in St. Peter ad Vincula chapel, eerie place but oh so beautiful. So sad that this was her end.

  42. Magdalena Thorèn says:

    I would love to win a copy of the book ?

  43. Amy Blaylock says:

    I have two little felt dolls, one of Anne and one of Henry. Every day in May until the 20th, I always find Henry face down. We have tried propping him up, setting him against a book but he always ends up face down. We like to think it’s Anne giving him a nice punch as revenge or someone here helping out Anne. Either way it gives us a giggle.
    I hope to win the coloring book. I have tons of colored pencils waiting patiently.

  44. Stephanie Francis says:

    I always get emotional on this day, it hurts when you think about the pain and suffering Anne most had gone through preparing for death and I pray more then anything that her soul found peace. But today is also to remember that Anne Boleyn´s life, lives on her memory and legacy has touched so many people through time and today we remember that Anne Boleyn will never be forgotten. Anne Boleyn is one of my greatest role model and she always will be, I have learned so much from Anne´s life and her legacy and soul has touch my heart more then words can describe. Today I remember the incredible strong woman and human Anne Boleyn was, her soul and legacy will continue to live on. Anne became Queen of heaven and her soul and legacy became immortal

  45. Chris Maddox says:

    Love Tutor History. Some of my favorite times in British history. Would love to have a copy of this

  46. Danielle Capozzi says:

    Thinking of Anne today <3. Would love a copy of this book!!!

  47. Mélodie Coste says:

    Thank you for the giveaway ! I would LOVE to have a copy !!!

  48. I didn’t know there was a Tudors Coloring book!?! Would love it!

  49. Tasha Cooper says:

    Colouring and my fascination with the Tudors goes back to early childhood. This book brings it all together……Thinking of Anne today, such a brave and noble Queen.

  50. Lisa Misak says:

    would love to win 🙂

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