Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Cutting Edge in Divorce

Tis said that Henry hobbled into Anne's chambers as soon as twas all over but the sobbing & bellowed YOU'LL GET NO MORE BOYS FROM ME, MADAME! & stormed out in as kingly as manner as one could manage whilst limping on a cane. Now that Cath was out of the way, he could get rid of Anne. So he called in Cranmer & Cromwell & hmmm'd a lot & 1st he said, well, I amused my good self w/ her sister Mary, let's use that!

C & C were prolly hard put not to roll their eyes & pointed out this was the same tiresome gambit as last time, only the premise then had been that Cath had amused herself w/ his bro. And Henry, back when he still had hope the Pope would come round, had actually had the gall to ask for a dispensation allowing him to wed a woman to whom he was related in the exact same degree of forbidden affinity as he was to Cath. The Pope prolly rolled his eyes as Henry wasn't in Rome & couldn't see it, but C & C had to be more diplo.

Henry hmmm'd some more & said I know! Haul in that Percy chap she was dating! Maybe he's got something useful! So Henry Percy, now Earl of Northumberland, duly presented himself & shook his head a lot. NO, he did not amuse himself w/ the queen, EVER! Well, yes, he would've married her had their parents permitted, but they hadn't. No, he'd never actually asked her about it. They were never pre-contracted at all. Nope. That's my story & I'm sticking to it, said Percy emphatically.

Henry commenced tearing his hair out. See, there was no divorce back then, so they kinda had to make stuff up as they went along to undo a marriage & he couldn't think of anything else useful. Just for sumfin to do he created a commission to look into treasonous doings. Cranmer rather liked Anne & was grateful for his preferment, but Cromwell was just along for the ride & had no personal loyalty to the queen, so Henry pulled him aside & said, OK here's the commission, now go find some treason on her part.

Meanwhile, the Tudors remained civil in front of peeps. While Henry was plotting to rid himself of the wench, Anne's only hope was to recover from the miscarriage & entice the fat old lech to make another baby w/ her. He was too busy making gaga eyes at chinless Jane & conferring w/ Cromwell to bother, so she was getting a tad anxious & so were her rellies & peeps. Things were not looking good for the Boleyn faction. Her bro George was snubbed when it was expected he'd be made a member of the Order of the Garter, & Edward Seymour was appt'd a privy chamber peep.

Edward Seymour

Henry decided to postpone a trip he & Anne were scheduled to take to Calais to have another tournament for May Day, but he wasn't going to particpate in this one. That nasty gash on his leg wasn't healing properly & making him even grumpier. Sir Henry Norreys, purportedly Henry's BFF of his gents of the bedchamber, acted as queen's champion in his stead. Henry lumbered over & squatted next to Anne to watch the action & glared at her a lot. Then he got up in the middle of the thing & stormed off sans explanation, telling the peeps to enjoy.

The next day whilst watching a tennis match, Anne was arrested! Wonder if she saw THAT coming. From her recorded hysterical reaction, likely not. She was barged off to the Tower to the nice apts she'd had for her coronation & completely lost it, babbling incoherently & indiscreetly whilst twas all written down by the ladies with whom she'd been surrounded, none of whom liked her much.

Hers wasn't the only arrest. Other peeps were packed off to the Tower as well.

Her old BF, Sir Thomas Wyatt, got a Tower Fun Pass. So did Henry Norreys, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton, Sir Richard Page, Anne's musician Mark Smeaton, & her brother George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford. Peeps was all agog to find out what was going on, esp w/ Henry now publicly playing snuggle-bunny w/ Jane. C & C sidled over & said maybe that wasn't quite appropriate, so Henry sighed & told his old BFF from childhood, Sir Nicholas Carew, to host Jane at his manor in Surrey, less than 15 mi from Greenwich & an EZ ride even for a fat king.

Sir Nicholas Carew

There may have been hanky-panky, as twas reported Henry spent the night at Beddington Park several times. Jane might've figured if he was arresting his wife, she'd best put out or else.

The publicized charges were shocking. Anne was accused of numerous acts of adultery, incl w/ her bro! Supposedly the evidence for this little nugget came from George's wife Jane. Twas said Anne had plotted the king's demise & ensorcelled him into marrying her. Twas also said Anne had been planning to poison both Mary & Richmond so that neither of them could steal the crown from Elizabeth. Henry purportedly wept as he revealed this narrow escape to his 16 yo son.

Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond

Amazingly, as the pre-eminent peer of the realm (Henry having executed Buckingham several yrs ago for shooting his mouth off one too many times about his Plantagenet blood & saying he was the heir presumptive w/ no Tudor boys), Anne's Uncle Norfolk was in charge of the trials.

Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

And the trials moved swiftly. Cromwell had tortured a lurid confession out of Smeaton, the musician, so his conviction was a foregone conclusion. Wyatt & Page were eventually released & sent home, but Norreys, Weston, & Brereton stood trial along w/ Smeaton. There were lots of discrepancies in the dates of the alleged acts from the testimony of alleged witnesses, citing times it would've been impossible for Anne to have smuggled a gent into her chambers, like when she was in female seclusion shortly after giving birth to Elizabeth. Anne's father, now Earl of Wiltshire, was excused from sitting in judgment, but her old BF Percy wasn't & had to take his place w/ the peers of the realm & cast his guilty vote against the 4 guys. Even tho the evidence was all circumstancial or hearsay, Henry was determined to roll heads, & so they were all told not to dare vote otherwise.

3 days later it was Anne's turn. Twas reported she did an excellent job of rebuttal to the specious charges & engendered a lot of sympathy from the peeps in the peanut gallery who were lucky enough to get seats for the Trial of the Century. But when it came time to poll the peers for their verdict, guilty still fell out of everyone's mouth, save Percy's. Twas said he collapsed when it was his turn & never voted at all as he had to be hauled out. Uncle Norfolk sentenced her to either burning or beheading, at the king's pleasure.

George Boleyn's trial was the afternoon's entertainment. Bets were being taken by the peeps in the peanut gallery as to whether or not Lord Rochford might get off as the trial progressed, as he supposedly did a fine job of defending himself. Rumor has it he was handed a folded sheet of paper to read & asked to give a yes or no ans about its contents. It said stuff about Henry suffering from bouts of impotence, & George read it aloud & got a nice laugh, plus a conviction.

That night Henry & Jane dined publicly at Hampton Court in celebration of Anne's conviction. Anne was moved to lodgings in the Lieutenant's House overlooking Tower Green so that she could enjoy watching her execution scaffold being built. 2 days later the 5 men were beheaded on Tower Hill (even Smeaton tho he wasn't entitled to such), all protesting their innocence to the bitter end. The same day Henry nudged Cranmer to pronounce his marriage to Anne never existed & that Elizabeth was just as much a bastard as Mary. Tis rumored Cranmer may have been sent to the Tower to get Anne's signature on a doc stating she'd been pre-contracted to Percy after all in exchange for being beheaded & not burnt, but no such doc has ever yet been found, so who knows. Henry was all chuffed at how merciful he was being to not have her crisped. Peeps kept their lips zipped for fear of ending up in the Tower next if they so much as said a word against the king's plotting to get rid of his wife. This is when the Tower started gaining its nefarious rep as the bad place. Then Cranmer issued Henry a dispensation to marry Jane that has historians scratching their heads, as it said he was related to her in the 3rd degree of affinity. Perhaps Henry had a GF who'd gone unnoticed who was a cuz to Jane, as that's what it implied, as Cath natch was foreign & the Boleyns & Howards weren't related to the Seymours at all.

Anne's execution was supposed to be the day after the men, but Henry in his infinite mercy had sent for a French swordsman to do away w/ her rather than a common axe & the dude got delayed in crossing the Channel from bad weather. So it got postponed a day. No one has a clue why Henry would do this. A nicely honed sword is way better than an axe, true, but it's still weird; why would he care at this pt? Anne was allowed to have a few of her fav ladies come by for the last cpl days & accompany her on the walk to the scaffold.

It was unheard of to send a woman to the block, & for it to be an anointed reigning queen was incredible, so naturally this event was the cynosure of all eyes. All the ambassadors jostled for position so they could send an accurate dispatch back home to their own kings, & Richmond was sent as Dad's proxy to witness his stepmother's demise. Anne made the brief walk from her lodgings & climbed the steps to the platform, where her ladies removed her headpiece & jewels, & she pressed small tokens like her prayer book & rosary upon them.

Then she turned to face the crowd & said:

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.

Anne knelt in the straw, was blindfolded, & frantically prayed for mercy on her soul as the sword slashed sideways & took off her head. Peeps crossed themselves b/c her lips, not yet realizing she was dead, were still moving as the swordsman held the severed head up as was traditional.

I'm seriously wondering if the whole thing wasn't sarcasm so subtle a blundering oaf like Henry would miss it, or if Anne was just concerned for her daughter's continued well-being w/ a father who would commit judicial murder on the mother. At any rate, the Tower's cannons boomed to signify the deed was done & Henry, that perpetual bachelor, began to prepare for his 1st real wedding once more. He hadn't even thought to have a coffin ready to receive Anne's remains, so there was much standing about wondering what to do about that until some Tower peep produced an arrow chest. Normally that wouldn't have been long enough, but when one has one's head tucked 'neath one's arm, tis just the right size. While Henry & Jane were celebrating it was hauled into the Tower chapel of St Peter ad Vincula & buried under its stone floor w/o so much as a marker. There wan't much digging to be done what w/ all the traffic it had seen in the last few days, so perhaps it would've been some small comfort to the Boleyn sibs to be spending eternity together....

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