“I am come hither to die…”

Anne Boleyn, granddaughter of Elizabeth Tilney...

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It’s the 475th anniversary of Queen Anne Boleyn’s execution at the Tower of London, two days after the executions of the men convicted of treason (and other sundry crimes) beside her.

I’ve made no secret here of my belief in her innocence, at least of the crimes for which she was beheaded, and I’ve often considered how England, Henry, Elizabeth, and the world would have changed had she lived on as queen.

In her honor, below is the commonly accepted text of her speech on the scaffold, and a poem in tribute.

First, her speech:

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 there was 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.

In memoriam:

 I am come hither to die,
for false treason convicted yet never confessed –
Have I sinned, not against you gathered here
O ye men who would speak evil
and turn my lord against me,
I will yet be with him evermore.
And though my body may rest beneath the ground
I shall remain in this world in the hearts of those
who even now would take up my cause.
I am come hither to die,
yet in dying will live forever –
to God I commend my soul, and to you I commend my memory.

Requiescat in Pace, Your Majesty.


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