No Second Chance by Dorothy Snelson

            She glanced behind; a telling sign. Did she expect a reprieve, even at this late hour? Banishment abroad, or to a nunnery perhaps? But there was to be no messenger, and no second chance; just a sombre, silent crowd here to witness her final moments and gory end.  She climbed the steps to the dais where her ladies, her swordsman executioner, her confessor and her conscience were her only companions.

            She had examined her conscience minutely since her imprisonment. Yes, she had failed to provide him with a healthy male heir, but all the trumped up charges of adultery, were just that . Thomas Cranmer should look to his conscience there. All those dashing young men sent to the scaffold when their only crime was to dance attendance on her.

            Her priest stepped forward to pray with her. Then she addressed the silent mass of people, and was careful in her speech to praise him, as a just and wise sovereign. She had no choice. She had a daughter, who had to grow up and live, in the snake pit that was the Tudor court. She must protect her at all cost. She nodded her head in resignation, and her ladies removed her headdress in preparation. The swordsman asked for her forgiveness, which she readily gave. How thoughtful of her husband to arrange for a French swordsman, rather than let her die by the axe. Or perhaps it was nothing of his doing. Perhaps it was the French king who had sent him, in remembrance of her time at the French court, where she had danced and sang and charmed everyone she came into contact with.

            She knelt on the hard floor and was blindfolded. She tried to pray but she couldn’t summon up the words. Her last thoughts were not of him, but of her daughter, Elizabeth. How would she survive the conniving, innuendo, and plotting of the court. She would be helpless as a woman to determine her own fate. That would be decided by a man. The sword swished like lightening just the once, and it was over.

             She would never know that her daughter, Elizabeth, was destined to become the greatest queen England had ever known. The feistiness and courage that was Anne’s legacy, helped her to navigate the many hurdles along the way. Good Queen Bess, daughter of the once reviled ‘Boleyn witch’, became the most celebrated Tudor of them all. Anne may have died in ignominy, but through her daughter, she did have a second chance to leave her mark on history.