Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Question from Kenneth - Anne Boleyn's last days in the Tower

I am thinking about writing a play about Anne Boleyn's last few days in the Tower. How much freedom would she have had, could she move about or was she confined to a room or rooms? Would she be allowed visitors or any other contact with the outside world? Any information or insight you could give me would be appreciated. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Anne Boleyn's final days in the Tower were relatively well documented and there are several great reads on this particular point in Anne's life. "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn" by Eric Ives is a good place to start, as is "The Lady in the Tower" by Allison Weir.

    Anne was lodged, during her imprisonment, in the queen's lodgings of the royal palace within the Tower. These were the same lodgings that had been revamped to house her during her coronation in 1533. Though more than £1 million was spent to ready the opulent rooms for her coronation (almost) three years earlier, they had fallen into dilapidation by the end of the 16th century and were destroyed in the 18th century.

    As to the level of freedom Anne enjoyed, it is relatively safe to assume that she was restricted to her rooms only. The case against her was executed with an alarming level of secrecy and speed, so a well-spoken Anne with access to support was a dangerous threat to the case. It was a necessity that she was cut off entirely from the world. Supposedly, she wrote a letter to King Henry during this time, but many historians disagree on the authenticity of it. The ladies appointed to serve her were all very much opposed to her, and were used to spy on her every word and movement - all of which went straight to Cromwell. Considering the lengths at which they had already gone to move swiftly and secretly, it is unlikely she enjoyed any freedom outside of her rooms at all.

    As to her visitors, here again we know they were few and far between. The constable of the Tower, William Kingston, attended her frequently and wrote Cromwell reports on the queen daily. He documented all goings on during the queen's imprisonment, and little is seen in the way of visitors to Anne's presence save for her almoners, chaplains and Thomas Cranmer himself. Cranmer was called in the night before her original execution date to her hear her final confession, and remained relatively convinced of her innocence until the end.

    It is interesting to note that all foreign visitors were forced to leave the tower during Anne' s execution, which adds another level of confusion to the story. The crown was making efforts, once again, to sweep everything under the rug as quickly and quietly as possible, so this, in a way, furthers the idea that Anne was locked up away from prying eyes and sympathetic ears during her incarceration.


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