Actually, we don’t know that. In tonight’s hour-long documentary on Anne’s last days, a bevy of noted authors and historians were given the line ‘What I think happened was…’ and then let loose to present their theories and rationales. The trailer for the programme suggested we were going to get to the bottom of the sad affair. Trailers always do…
Did Henry want Anne dead and order Thomas Cromwell to engineer the evidence? Did Cromwell engineer it on his own behalf because he and Anne weren’t exactly best mates? Was it an example of complex courtly protocols coming unstuck at the seams and creating a tragedy by accident? Could the charges levelled at her even have been true after all? Each of these theories and more were espoused by different members of the august body of experts and argued at length.
The privilege of making the final pronouncement was given to the youngest and prettiest of the historians (well, to be precise, the only one who was young and pretty. And, much to my approval, the only one to stand outside the whole process and say ‘historians don’t always give you all the facts.’) She said:
There’s enough evidence to keep the historians interested, and enough doubt to ensure we’ll never know the truth.
Ah, right. So that was an hour well spent, then.
Personally, I find Anne’s confession before and after receiving the final Eucharist the most compelling evidence of all. I’m voting ‘innocent.’
(And I’m tempted to suspect that Anne and Henry were respectively reincarnated as Catherine the Great and Tsar Peter III of Russia, and that revenge was sweet. Being neither a historian nor a Buddhist, I have no evidence to offer.)