"The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine." ~ J.B.S. Haldane
English Queens - Anne Bolyn
Quick...name an English king...Which was the first that came to mind?
Most often the answer is Henry VIII -- unless you're a student of history -- and King Arthur doesn't count. Thanks to the lavish HBO series The Tudors the rotund British monarch is even more familiar to modern pop culture audiences. Whether Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' portrayal of a slim and sexy young monarch is accurate may be debatable, but history does record that Henry had voracious appetites both in and out of the bedchamber. With six wives and numerous mistresses to his credit, if one displeased then another was awaiting in the wings. After all, who refuses the advances of a king?
If the annals of history (and television) are to be relied upon, then Anne Boleyn did so, at least at first, but it would seem that her virginal reluctance was merely the first step upon a pathway ruthlessly calculated to bring herself and her family to the pinnacle of power. Whatever lofty heights she may have aspired to, she certainly has achieved a lasting fame. Even four hundred seventy odd years beyond her beheading death at her husband's command, Henry's second wife and queen is still remembered. Who has not heard the gruesome jingle sung to remind of the fated order of the royal Tudor wives? "Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived."
In life Anne was a woman who polarized extreme sentiment. Nobly born and educated upon the continent, she was intelligent, accomplished and politically astute. Admirers praised her pious progressiveness; detractors damned her for being the cause of Henry's break with the Holy Roman Church; others applauded her wit, while others deplored her witchcraft. Though she bore Henry a daughter who would eventually become Elizabeth I, her failure to produce a male heir to the crown, coupled with her fickle husband's cooling ardor and roving eye, assured her downfall. At Anne's trial, charges of adultery, sorcery, incest and treason were brought against her, yet learned historians believe that none had any real merit. As hotly as his passion had burned, equally so was Henry's icy determination to be rid of another queen. On a spring Friday morning, the seventeenth of May in the year 1536, Anne, Queen Consort of England, commended her soul to God and met her mortal fate beneath a headsman's shining blade.
So reviled was she by Henry and his sycophantic courtiers and so fearsome the dread that royal wrath might extend further to any one who still harbored kindly thoughts toward Anne that upon her death neither Henry nor her own family members provided a coffin or any funeral arrangements. Her stricken body lay unclaimed on the executioner's scaffold for hours, before one merciful soul, a common workman in the Tower, took pity on the former queen. He located a plain iron-bound armory chest, one empty of the arrows it normally held, and placed her corpse and severed head inside. Without further ceremony the disgraced queen was hastily buried in an unmarked grave in the Tower's Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula. Latin for "in chains", the chapel is perhaps appropriately the burial site of many of the high profile prisoners executed by royal decree. In 1876 during the reign of Queen Victoria, Anne's resting place was exhumed while the chapel was undergoing restoration. An examination of the skeletal remains revealed she did not have the six fingers of a witch as so frequently alleged. She was re-interred and a marker was placed, and yet still, tales persist that Queen Anne's spirit is restless.
The best documented case to support her continuance on this plane comes from the court martial records of a guard at the Tower of London where Anne spent her final earthly days. The story is related as thus: In 1864 one Captain (later Major General) James Durham Dundas of the 60th Rifles regiment was quartered in the Tower. Unable to sleep, he stood gazing out of a window when he noted a guard in the courtyard in front of the lodgings where Anne had been imprisoned challenge an interloper. Upon closer observation the intruder appeared as a "whitish, female figure sliding toward the guard". As Dundas watched, the guard charged the apparition with fixed bayonet, but passed completely through it, whereupon the hapless sentry fainted. It was only with the officer's testimony that the soldier's military career was saved and a prison term avoided for dereliction of duty.
Over the centuries Tower gaolers and other Yeoman Warders have reported encountering the late queen's apparition, and additionally scores of tourists to the infamous site have claimed to have seen Anne in one form or another. Her spirit is also said to manifest in Windsor Castle, home of English monarchs for more than a thousand years. Very reliable witnesses include King George VI and H.R.H Andrew, the current Duke of York, son of Queen Elizabeth II.
Whether unjustly accused or no, and whether fleeing down a corridor screaming or lamenting mournfully with her head beneath her arm or gliding silently in the moonlight in the Tower courtyard frightening guardsmen, Queen Anne Boleyn remains enthroned in history and continues to hold court in the realm of PARANORMAL CURIOSITIES.~~Lady JEM