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. Crystal navedo says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to win the coloring book! It looks amazing!!!! I love history, especially English. Someday I plan to visit and see all the places you write about!!!

  2. Eu sou fascinada pela dinastia tudor ja assiste mil vezes filmes ,series ,livros ,reportagens tenho ate no pinterest, amaria poder ter a honra de ganhar o livro de colorir guardaria por toda a minha vida passando para meus netos um dia…

  3. Colin Guido says:

    Thanks for keeping the site up, and helping to keep people interested in history! Fingers crossed about the coloring books. They look gorgeous tbh

  4. Rachael Berkebile says:

    Would love this book, definitely will help pass some time if i get put on bedrest with this pregnancy.
    Rachael Berkebile

  5. Susan Hagaman says:

    I would love to have a coloring book like this! Are they available for purchase. Thanks for your site. I enjoy it so much, finally something on Facebookt that isn’t total nonsense!

  6. Shellina Hill says:

    I sitting here multitasking with this article on my tablet and The Biography of Henry VIII book in my lap.
    Me+All? things Tudor=True love!
    Anne is one of my personal heros, a steadfast figure in the history of feminism.
    I would love to win this beautiful book!

  7. April M. Durrant says:

    She was a bold queen, she definitely paved the way for the future Queen Elizabeth who to me seems to be most like her mother in both strength and wit. Queen Elizabeth calmed the waters after Henry made so many waves.

  8. Samantha Boston says:

    After i got interested in the tudors much to my best friend getting me to read some books lol i realized her day of death is the day after my daughters birthday… What entices me about snne was her boldness and how some women like myself wish that we could be like that so we envy and admire her. Good luck everyone

  9. Bethany Carolan says:

    Thank you for this nostalgic article. The Tudor history is fascinating and Anne Boleyn and her daughter Elizabeth I are my favorite royals to read about. By chance have you enjoyed the historical fiction mysteries about Elizabeth by Karen Harper?

  10. Jessica says:

    This book would bring together two of my favorite things: history, and coloring. By the way, that is a lovely portrait of Anne, where is it from?

  11. Having very recently visited the Tower of London for the first time and see exactly where these events took place , this year above any other seems all the more poignant .

  12. This Would Bring Me Such Joy To Have This Book I Love Reading About Anne Boleyn And I Just Love Coloring I Did Coloring With My Two Kids When They Were Little. I Would Love To Have This Book Thank You.

  13. Joanne Alger says:

    I first learned about the Tudors when I was 16 years old and have never stopped reading, and studying English history since, and may I say that was many, many years ago. I have a library full of books on the Tudors. I even inherited my mothers very old books on Queen Ann and Queen Elizabeth. I love to color and this book would be joy to color and add to my collection. It would help me teach my two older granddaughters and my soon to be born twin granddaughters about my love of history and hopefully instill them with the desire to learn history too.

  14. Daira McMillian says:

    Thank you for this site I enjoy it I watch The Tudors on Showtime I really would enjoy this book Thank you again

  15. Marie Pomfrey says:

    What a wonderful piece of history,I have always been fascinated by Tudor history,and never tire of reading it!
    I think it’s the most interesting part of our English history thank you

  16. Patricia Angulo says:

    I absolutely love Tudor history,so I would love this!!! Plus it’s a fun way to get my children into Tudor history as well

  17. Leslie Volnick says:

    I have to say you have a beautiful web site. I love the History of the Tudor’s and all of England. What a great idea to have a coloring book.

  18. Leigh redfern says:

    I’ve loved Anne since I was about twelve I think she was a banner for boldness and style and wouldn’t be out of place in today’s day and age of equality and feminism

  19. Barbara Gunn says:

    Even when you feel you have learnt everything about the Tudors there is always something popping up to prove you wrong. Such fascinating and complicated lives they led and make you wish to be a fly on the wall at this period.

  20. Allison Everson says:

    I love this page have followed you on FB but now am receiving your newsletter! Greetings from Bathurst Australia

  21. Thank you for this opportunity! I shared it on a Facebook page I manage.

  22. Megan Nafie says:

    I love this giveaway Tudor history is exciting to read about and learn. I love British History thanks for a chance to win. Megan

  23. Karen Plummer says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to win such a lovely coloring book! –Karen

  24. K. Rosamonde Boleyn -Sherwood says:

    I am a Boleyn on my father’s side. I am also an amateur
    historian and the Tudor times have always fascinated
    Me. My dream would be to immerse myself in the study
    If the Boleyn family and their very bumpy road to success.
    I love to color and I am actually learning illumination.

  25. Deborah Fluehr says:

    Very thoughtful post. I remember how moved I was when I visited the the chapel at the Tower. I often think of the fine line Anne had to walk in her final days in order to ensure she did or said nothing to endanger what remained of her daughter’s rights. Thanks for the chance to win the coloring book!

  26. Charisse Lewis says:

    Thank you so very much for the chance to win this awesome Tudor Coloring book

  27. Emberly Mietus says:

    I am so excited for this book to come out. Would be so awesome to win it!

  28. Oh how nice it would be to have a Tudor coloring book! I live in the US so I can’t go to all the wonderfully historical places especially the ones where Anne had been.

  29. Beverly Lowry says:

    I am so glad to have discovered your website — reading the stories are a wonderful supplement to watching all the PBS shows about the Tudor era. Would love to win the coloring book!

  30. Anne is still a fascinating person in history, even almost 500 years after her death. Thanks for helping to keep her memory alive!

  31. Lina Andersson says:

    What a lovely idea, a Tudor themed colouring book!

  32. Marilyn Anne Holley says:

    Thank you for sharing your love of Anne with us. Also this would be awesome to win a copy of His.

    ~ Marilyn Anne Holley

  33. I love everything and anything Tudor this colouring book may have been their de stressing pass time had it been around in that ear aside from needlework I think hoping it’s me xx

  34. Iona Crocker says:

    This colouring book looks amazing! Would love a chance to win it 🙂

  35. Kristina Lehman says:

    Book is beautiful! I can’t wait to see how different people bring these pages to life.

  36. Oh please oh please oh please ?

  37. Ann Bertrand says:

    I’ve been following for years, Thank you

  38. Francesca Salvatori says:

    Very excited about this! Thank you for the opportunity 🙂

  39. Samantha Long says:

    Really hope to win. Looks lovely.

  40. Rachael Gump says:

    I love history and would love to have the chance to win the book! This site is a great source of information as well ?

  41. Chantelle Ward says:

    I would love to win a copy of this!
    I am a huge Tudor history fan and have been since I was in primary school.


  42. Barbara kane says:

    This would definitely be a great way to relieve my stress. I am going through a divorce but at least I get to keep my head.

  43. What a good idea for a coloring book! This blog is lovely too!

  44. Janet Higginbotham says:

    To colour or to color? Either will do just fine, thank you. It would be a royal treat to win!

  45. My name is Patricia, I would love to win this book as it will help me relax and learn at the same time.

  46. Denise Christianson says:

    Thank you for all the work you put in to the Facebook page and this one. I really enjoy them both.

  47. juliew. says:

    It’s absolutely the truth that Anne Boleyn’s story continues to perplex and fascinate so many people as I’m sure it did in the those times as it does today.There are so many mysteries about why and how this could have happened.Shocking,brutal and tragic and in the end Anne was who she was and stood in the face of it with courage,intelligence,hope,humor,kindness,anger,fear and hurt.

  48. Elizabeth Logue says:

    Vivat Anna!

  49. I am finally getting to London this year! I have been an avid reader of Tudor history for over 40 years! I would love a copy of this book!

  50. Emrys R. Keim says:

    I marked Anne’s D-Day this year by getting the Books of Hours “Le Temps Viendra” inscription tattooed. To have Anne’s handwriting permanently inked was a pretty good way to reconcile myself with the fact that I have been following her story for ten years now, and she still remains thoroughly enigmatic. Henry truly did a number on history by attempting to erase any mention of her from the record. I sometimes wonder what she would think of her twenty-first century following – and the one-thousand-and-one “Anne’s” that have been produced throughout historiography. Thank you for all the work you do with ‘On The Tudor Trail’! It not only keeps her spirit alive but provides a fantastic platform to engage with all things Anne Boleyn. I certainly link others to this site when they want to begin their own path down the Tudor trail.

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