The Tower of London, 1536
Your grace's displeasure and my imprisonment are things so strange to me, that what to write, or what to excuse
, I am altogether ignorant. Whereas you send to me (wishing me to confess a truth and so obtain your favor), by such a one, whom you know to be mine professed enemy, I no sooner received this message by him, than I rightly conceived your meaning
; and if, as you say, confessing a truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty, perform your duty.
But let not your grace ever imagine that your poor wife will be brought to acknowledge a fault
, where not so much as a thought ever proceeded. And to speak a truth: never any king had a wife more loyal in all duty, and in all true affection, than you have found in Anne Boleyn - with which name and place I could willingly have contented myself.
You have chosen me from low estate to be your queen and companion, far beyond my desire
; if, then, you found me worthy of such honor, good your grace, let not any light fancy or bad counsel of my enemies withdraw your princely favor from me; neither let that stain - that unworthy stain - of a disloyal heart towards your good grace ever cast so foul a blot on me
, and on the infant princess your daughter.
Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and judges. Yea, let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame. Then you shall see either my innocency cleared
, your suspicions and conscience satisfied, the slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared. So that, whatever God and you may determine of, your grace may be freed from an open censure
; and my offense being so lawfully proved, your grace may be at liberty, both before God and man, not only to execute worthy punishment on me as an unfaithful wife but to follow your affection already settled on that party for whose sake I am now as I am
, whose name I could some while since have pointed unto - your grace being not ignorant of my suspicions therein.
But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander will bring you your desired happiness, then I desire of God that he will pardon your great sin herein
, and likewise my enemies, the instruments thereof; and that he will not call you to a strait account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me at his general judgment-seat, where both you and myself must shortly appear
; and in whose just judgment, I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me), mine innocency shall be openly known and sufficiently cleared.
My last and only request shall be, that myself only bear the burden of your grace's displeasure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen
, whom, as I understand, are likewise imprisoned for my sake. If ever I have found favor in your sight - if ever the name of Anne Boleyn has been pleasing in your ears - then let me obtain this request; and so I will leave to trouble your grace any further, with mine earnest prayer to the Trinity to have your grace in his good keeping
, and to direct you in all your actions.
From my doleful prison in the Tower, the 6th May --
Source: The Life and Death of Anne Bullen, Queen Consort of England (1820), by G. Smeeton, Charing Cross, Britain.