This is not an outfit post. With this being my first entry after changing my blog name, I have decided to not limit my blog to fashion. I have always asked myself since I started writing online what sets me apart from the swarm of fashion bloggers—and I couldn’t think of anything else aside from my passion for British literature and culture. No, I have not been to Britain (yet) and my wardrobe isn’t British-inspired (except for my union jack shirts and brogues)—so how does this passion of mine relate to a blog that was initially created to document my style progress? Nothing much really, aside from the fact that London is just one of the most fashionable places on earth. Britain in general boasts of a very rich culture, lots of things can be said about it. As an English Literature graduate, I have witnessed (or studied at least) the rise and fall of the British Empire. There’s so much to tell so I’ve decided to share tidbits about it in my future posts. I’ve observed that our generation has become too focused on appearance, that we sometimes simultaneously neglect to attend to our mental health. Remember that a bright mind never goes out of style, so in the coming days you’ll be seeing more informative posts, aside from British-inspired outfits.
To start off, I’m sharing a ‘story’ which my professor asked us last year to submit for our finals. The premise: we are given the chance to go back in time and interview one prominent British figure. However, we are not allowed to ask or say anything that may alter history.
So below is what I came up with. I chose Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. She is one of the most controversial queens England had. You’ll know why if you read on. You can also do further readings by looking up the references I cited.
15 February 2011
I just recently found out that I have won a free trip back in time to Britain from the lottery we had at last night’s I Hate Valentines Day party at work. I don’t know if I should be grateful or insulted as it seems to be some sort of a consolation for being dreadfully single for three straight years. Ugh. But oh well, does it matter? I’m going to Britain! However, right now I feel more worried than excited, as it is my childhood dream to visit the country. You see, diary, Britain’s culture is very rich (thanks to the monarchy system) and choosing only a single place and time to go to is such a dilemma right now. Anne Boleyn’s death anniversary is in three months though. I’ve been curious about her for years, so maybe I should pay her a visit? What do you think? Now, how to get there…
19 May 1536
Whew! That was the most horrible ship ride ever. I should seriously report the ghastly service to the management.
I have managed to secure a pass to Tower Green, where Queen Anne Boleyn was scheduled to be taken. I couldn’t help but be amazed at how medieval the castle looks, which now turned out to be the Queen’s prison. If today would have not been her execution, this castle would have looked more fascinating. The spiral staircase up to the chamber seemed like a procession. The lighting was so gloomy, as if it was mourning in advance for the Queen’s impending death. The guards didn’t let me in at once as Sir Anthony Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, was still there. I managed to get a glimpse of what was going on inside—Sir Kingston looking quite somber while the Queen managed to smile and laugh once in a while as if she has already accepted her fate.1 I overheard her swore to Sir Kingston though, that she had never been unfaithful to the King.2 I know my opinion did not matter at the time, but I really believe that she did not receive a fair investigation. That’s one flaw of the Henry VIII’s and all the other monarchs past him unfortunately, all accused never get acquitted.
It was my time to see the Queen. She looked quite perplexed at the sight of me, but she didn’t bother to ask who I was. It would be useless anyway, as she is going to be beheaded in a few hours—and by an expert swordsman, I heard.3 I could sense she felt quite relieved at the information as she was initially sentenced to be burned at the stake. I have never seen a person’s look before he dies, but that moment with the Queen made me think that death is not at as scary as it seems. What only worries her, I believe, is what would become of Elizabeth, her only child to King Henry VIII, after the execution. But being the King’s daughter, Elizabeth would still surely be well cared for. I wanted to tell her that her daughter will be alright and that she’ll reign for over 50 years, but I couldn’t. Instead, I mouthed the question which had been looming over my head since I have heard of her. I knew it was a very inconsiderate question but it’s what I came for:
Why did you marry Henry VII—is it due to your personal ambitions or your passion for reformation? I asked.
I beg your pardon? I could sense she felt insulted.
Forgive me, your grace. But don’t you think it will put to rest everything, once and for all? People will no longer question your intentions. Some people felt you just wanted to be queen, and they are angry at you for causing the split from the Catholic church.
It was time for England to grow apart from the Roman Catholic Church, she reasoned. England is a strong country and the Catholic church hinders it. Everyone should be free to think and act what is better for them, but Catholicism instilled in our minds that whatever contradicts them is heresy. The only way for England to become independent is to break away from Rome.
But surely, your grace, you had other intentions? Couldn’t you push your cause without marrying the King?
Becoming queen is the easiest way, my dear. But of course, people would always say that I am just one ambitious courtier who wanted power and wealth. It’s not my concern anymore, however. As you can see, they have already judged me.
But which one was the real reason?
Why are you so interested to know? Surely, in your time, I am no longer of importance.
I think you deserve to live longer and clarify everything to your people. They had to know. The Catholic Church has been the people’s religion for hundreds of years. They have believed in and depended their lives on it. As pure as your intentions may seem, it is not easy to switch beliefs. Now, people curse you for making them.
As I have said, I believe in the human mind. Whatever it thinks or feels for me is neither of my concern.
I wanted to ask another question, but the guards had already escorted me out of the chamber.
A few hours later, Queen Anne Boleyn was dead.
1, 2 Eakins, Lara E. Queen Anne Boleyn on the Day of Her Execution. TudorHistory.org. 17 April 2009. Web. 6 October 2011 <http://tudorhistory.org/primary/abexecution.html>.
3 Eakins, Lara E. Anne Boleyn’s Speech at Her Execution. TudorHistory.org. 17 April 2009. Web. 6 October 2011 <http://tudorhistory.org/primary/speech.html>.
BBC. Anne Boleyn (c.1504 – c.1536). BBC History. 2011. Web. 6 October 2011 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/boleyn_anne.shtml>.
Eakins, Lara E. Anne Boleyn: The Most Happy. TudorHistory.org. 17 April 2009. Web. 6 October 2011 <http://tudorhistory.org/boleyn/>.
Ives, Eric William. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: ‘The Most Happy’. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. Google Books. Web. 6 October 2011.
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