The scaffold was draped in black.
The depth of the black stood out against the springtime grass – the stark contrast between life and death was what I thought of.
I had come to the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn to support my mistress. I was a maid to Mary Boleyn, the Queen’’s dear sister, who stood a few feet away from me, saying nothing at all. I had, however, met Queen Anne many times myself. She had been so kind to me that I resented the idea of her dying – I thought it was absolutely preposterous of King Henry to do something like that to such a beautiful, intelligent, enchanting woman in the prime of her life.
I guessed that it must be nearly nine o clock, as we had arrived quite some time ago. The executioner bought specially from Calais stood in his mask, waiting for his duty to be done. I scanned the crowd; the Duke of Suffolk was present, Queen Anne’s renowned enemy, and also the King’s bastard, the Duke of Richmond.
There was a rush of sound from the people as four women appeared, leading the good Queen Anne to her doom. I was amazed at how mesmerizingly beautiful the Queen still was, despite living through such an ordeal. She wore a nightgown of grey damask, which went ever so well with her raven-black hair. Her hair was put up under some sort of net and covered with a gable hood. Her came was lined with rich white ermine, something of the like I had never seen before, and she wore a crimson kirtle beneath her gown. To me it was ever so daring of her to wear such a thing.
Upon mounting the scaffold, she looked out haughtily over the crowd, and began her speech.
“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.”
I could hear no more of her speaking, as my mistress’ sobs were too noisy beside me to be able to hear such things. But as soon as she was done Queen Anne looked over to us, and I am sure I saw her smile at Mary.
I watched closely and tearfully as the Queen graciously forgave her executioner, handing him a bulging purse as payment. She removed her own headdress before kneeling on the black cloth, taking one last look at the sweeping skies before the linen was tied over her eyes by her sobbing companions.
“Boy, fetch me my sword!” cried the executioner. I frowned, I did not understand – he was already holding the gleaming sword in his hands.
But it did the trick.
Anne turned, to the sound of his voice, and with one smooth, elegant sweep, the executioner chopped that stunning, regal, calculating head from her body.
By Lauren Duddell
- The Lady in the Tower – Alison Weir
- Anne Boleyn – Marie Louis Bruce
- Traitors of the Tower – Alison Weir