Anne Boleyn execution after 3 years of marriage
After just three years of marriage to King Henry VIII, Queen Anne Boleyn is under arrest in the Tower of London and about to become the first English Queen in history to be executed. This film reconstructs the harrowing story of Anne's final hours and reveals the circumstances that led to her execution.
When Anne was crowned Queen of England in May 1533, it was a triumphant moment for a woman who had gambled everything on the love of Henry VIII. Yet Henry's infatuation with his clever and outspoken second wife was not to last. From the moment she gave birth to their daughter Elizabeth, and not the son and heir he craved, Anne became vulnerable to the endless political machinations of a ruthless court system, in which political success or failure was the difference between life and death.
Anne fell victim to a swift and devastating coup masterminded by the King's first minister Thomas Cromwell. Within a fortnight of her arrest, Anne, her brother and several of her closest allies at court were convicted of treason and sent to their deaths.
The film tells the story of Anne's final hours, including; Henry's 'merciful' decision not to have Anne burnt at the stake, but to be beheaded with a sword by an executioner from Calais; Anne's declaration of innocence at her last sacrament; and the spies that surrounded her at the Tower and how their information contributed towards her downfall.
Days That Shook The World: The Execution of Anne Boleyn by the BBC is a beautiful re-enactment of the last twenty four hours of Anne Boleyn’s life. The enactment is only thirty minutes in length and gives a brief yet extremely compelling overview of the lead up to Anne’s fall and then her last day upon earth.
We are given a brief outline of Anne’s younger years and then how she met Henry VIII and through a series of events became his great infatuation. We are also given some details about Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, how he wished for his marriage to be annulled so that he could marry Anne and how he finally declared himself Surprise Head of the English Church.
The show then provides a brief history of Anne and Henry’s relationship and the reasons as to why Anne was sent to the Tower of London and charged with adultery. I did like how they said that part of her crime was her failure to curb her spirit, the same spirit and fire which had first drawn Henry to her. I have always seen Anne as a strong willed woman, unwilling to submit to what she held true, vivacious and bold far beyond her time. The show also spoke about how Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell used to be friends and then how eventually Anne became a threat to Cromwell. It was suggested that Cromwell helped to plan Anne’s downfall and conviction.
A little information is given about Anne Boleyn’s religious beliefs and although I do not think they are completely accurate (the show did keep emphasising how much of a reformer Anne was) it was quite a humbling picture. I especially found it very moving when Anne’s conviction to her faith was spoken about.
Next we are shown how Anne began to babble when she entered the Tower as a prisoner and how what she spoke of was used as evidence to incriminate her of adultery with Francis Weston, Mark Smeaton and Henry Norris.
We also see Anne swearing upon the Sacrament that she was innocent of the crimes of adultery brought against her. I do believe in my heart that Anne Boleyn was innocent. I believe as shown in the re-enactment, that Anne was true to her faith and a very religious woman and would not have wanted to go to the scaffold holding a lie to her chest. She swore she was innocent before God and upon the eternal damnation of her soul. In my mind that is extremely powerful evidence she was innocent, especially with the strong dedication to faith in the Tudor period.
As Anne was going to the scaffold they showed little Elizabeth playing and I have to admit that at this point I did weep. I believe that Anne loved her daughter greatly and as a mother myself with a young daughter this scene touched me deeply. One of Anne’s greatest legacies was her daughter who would eventually become Queen Elizabeth I.
Lastly Anne’s speech upon the scaffold had me in years. Anne was an incredible woman, a woman who grasped every opportunity held before her; a woman who had strength and courage and determination was far beyond her time. How she could have stood up there and spoke to the people without breaking down into fists of tears or hysterics is truly one of the greatest acts of courage.
There were a few inaccuracies in the re-enactment Eg. Stating that Henry was excommunicated for marrying Anne, but overall I thought it was a beautiful re-enactment of Anne Boleyn’s final twenty four hours. The costumes and set design were quite stunning and the power and emotion behind the narration was the real masterpiece.
I found this a beautiful and yet quite haunting portrayal of Anne Boleyn’s final twenty four hours. Even though it was a re-enactment it still gives us an idea of what it may well have been like for Anne in her final hours. The fear, the worry, her prayers… I shudder as I can only imagine what it would have been like for this incredible woman. My heart really went out to Anne Boleyn as I watched this short piece and I feel it really shows the sheer magnitude of how amazing this woman was that four hundred and seventy five years after her death we still speak and remember her. I have posted the youtube links to the show below and if you ever get a chance to watch them then I beg that you do. It is beautiful, moving and a must see for anyone interested or captivated by the image of Anne Boleyn.