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On Saturday 28 April, when the king’s body servant Sir Henry Norris came to her household, Anne asked him why he had not yet married the maid of honour he kept visiting.
When Norris shrugged that he preferred to ‘tarry a time’, Anne joked: ‘You look for dead men’s shoes, for if ought came to the king but good, you would look to have me.’ Imagining the death of the king was a treasonous offence, and Norris replied, aghast, that ‘if he should have any such thought, he would [wish] his head were off’.
As the king’s party rode off, Henry asked Norris if he had committed adultery with the queen, offering to pardon him if he confessed. Two further courtiers would be convicted at trial of plotting Henry’s death with the queen.
In Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, Guinevere was sentenced to death by burning.
Henry decided Anne would be beheaded with a sword — the symbol of Camelot, of a rightful king, and of masculinity.
With his wife, Anne Boleyn, in the Tower, Henry VIII considered every detail of her coming death, poring over plans for the scaffold. Anne, alone among all victims of the Tudors, was to be beheaded with a sword and not the traditional axe.
The question that has, until now, remained unanswered is — why?