Immoral or Immortal?
by D.C. Buschmann
They say the one who makes you
can take you down, and I’m not
here to dispute that.
King Henry VIII ennobled Anne Boleyn
marquis of Pembroke, making her the most
prestigious woman in his realm—and rich,
and later gave her one of the grandest
coronations had by any queen.* He
doted on her by all accounts
until months before her execution.
Was she wrong to assume power
came with elevation? Acting as
queen, well-nigh, before wed,
Henry knew her flaws and gaffes. Her
mouth ofttimes was a swift running river,
when a dam would better sufficed.
Her assets, which were many, included
speaking French with Henry when
he and ambassadors met.
Once his wife, he no longer required
her assistance in affairs of state,
though Anne did not acquiesce.
She campaigned for the needy and poor,
wanted them fed and taught, funded
by monasteries’ liquidation,
not wealth simply added to the crown’s coffers.
Pillaging of Catholic holdings had made
Henry rich beyond imagination.
They could afford to be generous, Anne thought.
And as queen, she was more generous
even than her pious predecessor. Anne
distributed to the poor as her faith required,
sewing, along with her ladies, clothes
and under garments for them to wear.
She displayed Tyndale’s Bible in chambers
for her ladies to read with passages marked
for Henry—proof he was head of the church
in England, not the pope. He had followed her lead, gotten
his own divorce decree enabling him to marry again.
Henry knew others thought his queen ruled him,
but why charge his heir’s mother
of sex with 100 men? How did obsession
turn to hatred, a brewing storm to tsunami?
It was quite simple, at least to him. Anne chuckled
about his poem and love making and manner
of dress—to her brother. Word had gotten back.
He would show them.
Besides, Henry tired of arguments
with Anne, who had too many beliefs
and opinions and had not produced a prince.
He had another waiting—one of his wife’s
ladies-in-waiting—who did not question
his bidding, except in sex. That she withheld,
as coached by Cromwell, at least in the beginning.
Maybe Henry would get a boy off her, **
Jane whispered in Henry’s ear.
“Only, make me your wife!”
Today Anne is not
as Henry wished.
The accusations, unproved,
and execution, unjust,
martyred her—so says Foxe. ***
March 29, 2020
*Events at Anne’s extravagant coronation would include a magnificent water pageant, glittering coronation procession, and finally, Anne being crowned and anointed as Queen of England with the Crown of St Edward the Confessor—usually only used on reigning Monarchs. —Claire Ridgway’s “487 years ago on this day – 11th April – in 1533” (April 11, 2020)
** Historians have tended to see Jane as a passive figure in these events, like a log swept along in a river’s current, but according to Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, she was actively conspiring to capture the king’s attention and destroy the queen so she could take her place. From The History Geeks, “Jane Seymour and the Conspiracy to Destroy Anne Boleyn,” A Guest Post by Lissa Bryan, April 19, 2017.
*** The Actes and Monuments, popularly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, is a work of Protestant history and martyrology by Protestant English historian John Foxe, first published in 1563 by John Day.
ABOUT THE POET
D.C. Buschmann is a retired editor and reading specialist. She holds a master’s degree in two subject areas in Education. Her poem, “Death Comes for a Friend,” was the Editor’s Choice in Poetry Quarterly, Winter 2018. Her work has been published internationally, including Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library’s So it Goes Literary Journal, The Adirondack Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Red Coyote. She lives in Carmel, Indiana, with husband Nick and miniature schnauzers Cupcake and Coco. Her first book of poetry, Nature: Human and Otherwise, was published in February 2021.