There was a sound of ear splitting screams, then soul shattering wails and moans which came from Marie as she stared blindly around the room reached out towards us but grasped only air in her hands. The room shook with the vibrations of her cries. The mist returned full force and the room grew to an icy chill. She caught sight of the boys, her screams turned to choking gasps and she vanished. We could hear echoes of her voice fading and repeating No, non, not I, not ever…
At her leaving, we all were much shaken. Gerard stood near the fire place, leaned his head against it as if he could not hold himself upright. Elizabeth moved close to him, tried to sooth him but he pushed her hand away as if a touch from anyone would cause him greater pain.
That sight of him was the last I had before I was consumed by my thought, my connection to Anne. I remember staring at her intently, trying to make some connection with her. Judith was standing close by to me at the time, holding on to my arm, it seemed as if for Dear Life. I am quite certain that she regretted that act later, though she would not admit to it. As I was swept into Anne’s lost life and mind, so was Judith.
What we experienced were scattered images and visions of Anne’s last day, those last moments when she lost her life. What we felt was not her physical pain, but her emotional terror, her rage at having been betrayed by everyone she knew and trusted, her all consuming grief and guilt for what would become of her daughter, and yet a silent conviction of her innocense never waivering even at the end. Though she had been betrayed, she would not call the same upon others. She vowed her loyalty and alliegance to Henry until the last,
* ‘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.’
After being blindfolded and kneeling at the block, she repeated several times: ‘To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesu receive my soul.’ *
What I heard beneath that, within her was a calm inner voice, “I am innocent of all such treason and witchery, Henry knows it well as does my God.” As her breath left her body, her one last thought was of her daughter.
I had never cared for Anne the few times I had been acquainted with her, but I had never believed her guilty of all such things she had been accused of towards her end. She had been well and truly played, manipulated by those men of power who held control of our world, including Henry. Now as I watched her wander and relive those last moments, I felt not anger over this, but a heartache in her for her child. It became clear to me that she was searching for the young Elizabeth. She had no knowledge of what greatness her child would grow to achieve. Her only thought was that she had left her daughter to be tainted by the accusations against her, left her alone in that viper pit of snakes who would use her and dispose of her.
When I tried to reach her with my thoughts, to reassure that Elizabeth would outshine them all, she shunned my thoughts, went about her wanderings and her thoughts kept going back to Elizabeth. I did not understand any of it though. In her tortured mind, she repeated a phrase of “Not this end for us… and an image she conjoured of a pale young red haired teen giving birth in the tower and the baby being whisked away in the dark of night. She kept trying to follow the child out of the Castle but her spirit was bound to this place. She found her consolation in the two orphan boys. When her mind went to them, it was filled with grief, but guilt as well… she knew she should send them on their way, but her heartache would not let her part with them.
Author’s note: This account of Anne Boleyn’s speech at her execution was made by the Tudor chronicler Edward Hall.
The execution took place on 19 May 1536 at 8 o’clock in the morning. It was the first public execution of an English queen.