I have another festival coming up soon, but it is a sorrowful one. On May 19th each year I commemorate the anniversary of the death by beheading of my beloved Dis, Queen Anne Boleyn. I make offerings at Her shrine, prepare a feast that includes Tudor-era dishes she would have enjoyed during life, and process to a local spot that reminds me of her (our own Owen Memorial rose garden here in Eugene) where I offer prayers in her memory. On May 2nd, 1536, Anne was wrongly arrested on charges of treason and adultery and taken to the Tower of London (where, only three short years before, she had been received as Queen); there, the ordeal that would end in the taking of her life began. I’m sharing this post because it offers a persuasive and compelling account of her last days there, including some new insights regarding the famous letter “from the lady in the Tower” to Henry VIII, whose authenticity the author defends. I don’t yet have this book, but I look forward to adding it to my library!
From The Creation of Anne Boleyn, forthcoming 2013 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, copyright Susan Bordo.
When Chapuys heard of Anne’s arrest on May 2, he could barely suppress his glee. He marveled at “the sudden change from yesterday to this day” and declared that “the affair” had “come to a head much sooner and more satisfactorily than one could have thought, to the greater ignominy and shame of the lady herself.” Anne and Smeaton, he reported, were charged with adultery, and Henry Norris and Lord Rochford (George Boleyn, Anne’s brother) for not having revealed what they knew of the “adulterous connexion” between spinet player Smeaton and the queen. Until the actual charges were formally made—and sometimes long after– reports of who was arrested and why were often inaccurate. The Bishop of Faenza told Signor Protonotario Ambrogio that the Queen was arrested along with “her father, mother, brother, and…
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