The Last Days of Anne Boleyn

DATELINE:  Off Kilter & Off with Her Head?

Boleyn Plain Jane Came Later!

A documentary about the trial and execution of Henry VIII’s second wife, 500 years ago, sends historians into a tizzy of debate. It’s the last days, literally, of Anne Boleyn, just about a couple of months of instant downfall.

The hour-long film puts most of its focus in a six-month period after she seemed ready to take over as a powerful queen—almost immediately fortunes turned against her. She miscarried a male heir, and she alienated the powerful aide to Henry.

They wonder if she deserved execution, or whether it was a giant conspiracy to eliminate an upstart to the throne.

No one mentions that her ghost wanders the halls of various castles holding her head under an arm. If you wonder about the relative nature of injustice, that’s a compelling notion. She gave a confession in the hours before her death, saying she did nothing “physical,” whatever she was hinting.

Anne Boleyn was too clever for her own good, and she was a woman ahead of her time, thinking she could influence and advise the king. Her adversary seemed to be Thomas Cromwell, a man who would be right at home in a Trump cabinet.

She was accused of having sex with five men, including her brother. Henry never saw her after the accusations, and the kangaroo trial sent her the message that innocence is no protection in a world where the whim of a king is law.

In case, you’re wondering: Henry married the next wife not two weeks after Boleyn’s death in 1536. That may speak volumes about failing to deliver a male heir, which was her royal duty.

As for Cromwell, he too met an untimely end for treason: Henry wasn’t about to leave loose ends around his court.

When the floodgates open, you don’t stand a chance–and that history lesson remains the same 500 years later.