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may 19, 1536 | the execution of anne boleyn, queen consort of england and second wife of king henry viii

For her final public appearance, Anne dressed carefully in a gown of grey damask edged with fur. A gabled hood, under which her long hair was tucked, framed her face. Determined to die boldly, Anne stepped onto the scaffold and addressed the crowd with a smiling countenance. The officials drew in their breath. Would the queen declare herself a good woman in her last moments and make mockery of the king’s justice?

To their relief, there were no surprises. Wanting to make a good end, and perhaps to protect her family from any royal reprisals, Anne made no accusation or criticism. But she admitted no guilt either. Following her brother’s example, Anne merely submitted herself to the law and prayed for the King, asking the crowd to do likewise for her. Anne climbed the scaffold steps with Kingston’s assistance and then addressed the waiting crowd:

“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”.

As Anne prayed, the executioner called out to his assistant to pass him his sword. When Anne moved her head to try and hear what the assistant was doing, the executioner came up unnoticed behind her and beheaded her with one stroke of his sword. With a single deft swing, it was done. Death was quick and painless as had been promised her. (source)

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