Momentous Events in History: a day in the life of Anne Boleyn.
My calendar tells me I promised to publish a piece for the Momentous Events in History Blog hop. For a Anne Boleyn devotee like me, a truly momentous event in history was Anne Boleyn’s coronation on June 1st, 1533.
June 1st, 1533 was likely a happy day for Anne Boleyn. Six months pregnant with Elizabeth Tudor, Anne was now crowned Queen of England, after days of pageantry and celebration. I believe she was happy on this day, and probably exhausted too, since her crowning was the major event of many coronation events which began for her on May 29th.
Because I like to publish my Tudor novels on happy Tudor days, I had June 1st, 2020 down as the date for the publication of my fourth novel, Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, the conclusion of my Katherine of Aragon story. But that was before all the upheavals of 2020. This has been such a sad year for the world, I have now decided not publish in 2020. I far rather wait until January 15th, 2021 – and live in hope of better times for us all. Why January 15th? Well – that is the date Elizabeth Tudor was crowned Queen of England – a truly happy Tudor date.
Now to Anne Boleyn’s coronation. Dear Heart, How Like You This? my first novel, first published in 2002 by Metropolis Ink, and The Light in the Labyrinth, published by Metropolis Ink in 2014, both include scenes or refer to Anne Boleyn’s coronation. It was hard to decide which novel to draw from for my extract, until I remembered ten days ago marked the date of Anne Boleyn’s murder. Thinking about that, I decided I would let Kate Carey, my point of view character of The Light in the Labyrinth, step forward, and speak…
The Duke stepped forward, bowed and then straightened again. “My Grace, we come on the King’s command to conduct you to the Tower, there to abide during His Highness’ pleasure.”
Aunt Nan paled and swayed. Swallowing, she lifted her chin. “If that be the King, my husband’s pleasure, I am ready to obey.”
“Make yourself ready,” the Duke said. “The tide waits for no man—or woman.” He gestured towards the Queen’s women gathered by the window, the ruby on his signet ring flashing in a sudden beam of sunlight “You may choose two of your ladies to accompany you. With them, Lady Boleyn and Mrs. Cosyns will also attend to your needs.”
Aunt Nan started. “My Lady Boleyn and Mrs. Cosyns?”
Aunt Boleyn and Mrs. Coysns? Kate shook her head. Jesu’, why? They detest Aunt Nan. Aunt Boleyn has never forgiven her about Madge. They must be Cromwell’s spies.
Aunt Nan drew a deep breath and bowed her head. “Be it as the King desires.”
The bells rang out the second hour when they escorted Aunt Nan to the waiting barge, bare of ceremonial trappings. Kate padded after her aunt in a haze of terror, a terror that made everything seem a dream. A terror that dimmed the bright spring day.
Her aunt stopped, speaking as if to herself. “Not even three years.” She took Lady Meg’s hand. “Do you remember when we travelled this way? How different it was then. Do you remember, Meg, the dragon on the royal barge? How cleverly it hid the men who caused it look like it was breathing fire. It frightened the barges accompanying us, but not me.” She laughed softly, lifted her skirts and stepped down to take her seat. “I had never been so happy as on that day.” Sunlight shimmered on the water that glinted and sparkled like diamonds. “I will always remember walking on paths strewn, nay, carpeted with rose petals and the voices lifted up in song. Now it has come to this.”
Aunt Nan’s words returned Kate to her last journey on the river. That also had been the day of her aunt’s crowning, when she had accompanied her grandparents in the barge belonging to the Boleyns. Now, on another sunlit day, they journeyed the same way—past the majestic Cluniac Abbey, past the Isle of Dogs where the King kept and trained his hunting dogs, past busy wharves and ships being made ready for the sea. They passed an empty gibbet that stood as warning to those who chose piracy as a way of life.
Too soon the Tower came in sight. Last time, it had marked a happy arrival, but not today. No, not today. The looming Tower threatened death.
Kingston, the Lieutenant of the Tower, waited to greet them at the end of their journey. Leaving the barge behind, Aunt Nan halted in the shadow of the dungeons.
“Am I to go there—to that horrible place?” she asked Kingston as he bowed over her hand. She half-turned one way and the other, as if seeking escape.
He smiled at her with reassurance. “Nay, your Grace. You will be lodged in the same apartments where you stayed for your coronation.”
Aunt Nan stood there as if she struggled to understand, as if reality had lost all meaning and all sense, other than to mock her with its destruction. She fell to her knees and wept.