Sunday, December 30, 2012

Anne Boleyn's Body

Sometimes I write posts for this blog, then become disgusted with them and never post them.  Then I read them a year later and decide to post them because the world really needs to know how I feel about everything, even if it is poorly executed.  That will become a pun if you read on! 

Someone asked me what I could possibly be writing about so often in this thing (sometimes blogging comes up in conversation and because I never have the presence of mind to lie, I cryptically mention this, then refuse to give the address. The last person said, What do you like talk about private girl stuff there?  If by "girl stuff" you mean Anne Boleyn then...yeah).  Get ready!

o hai!

After their beheadings, Anne Boleyn and her brother George were tossed into some graves under the floor of St. Peter ad Vincula.  I am not really sure about the status of that kind of burial.  It wasn't total dishonor (like having your head left on a bridge for your spiteful ex to sneer at from his window), but a queen in good favor naturally wouldn't have been put there. 

As they do, the church fell into some disrepair in the centuries following Anne's death.  A restoration effort was taken during the 19th century, at which time the graves beneath the floors were opened.  It had always been known that Anne and her...family were in there (not only brother George but cousin Catherine as well), so I am not exactly sure why they were disinterred and can only attribute this to Victorian morbid curiosity.  The opening of the floor led to the realization that a bunch of regular  townspeople had been placed there along with the Boleyns and various other nobles over the years. 

It was at this point that they realized they really didn't know which of the skeletons belonged to Anne, having only a 16th century map and a jumble of corpses to go by.  Since a lot of bodies had been shifted around as they added new ones (apparently they would bash up old coffins and shove bones to the side to get new ones in), it was anyone's guess whether the female skeleton in the general area of Anne's X on the map was really her.  Hm, no sixth fingers or tails in here.  Get out the Victorian forensics!  Victorian forensics: "Eh...thiiis one."  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was just a kid when this happened, so he wasn't around to help.

Couldn't they have looked for trauma to the vertebra?  Not that beheaded skeletons were in short supply at St. Peter's.  Anyway, they picked the most likely female skeleton, slapped a tag on it reading AB 1536 :/ (jk, I don't know what the tag says), put her in a nice box, and back under the floor she went.

It seems like they could settle this situation with a little DNA testing.  Anne's sister Mary had children, and surely some of their descendents are living today.  Then again, would anyone care about this other than myself and Suzannah Lipscomb?  Of course they would!  This is important.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Given the powers that be in GB it would surprise me tremendously if exhumation and DNA testing were permitted here, although a successful DNA outcome would clearly answer all of these questions. Yes, the Brits love their monarchs (even the bad ones) but they also love their controversies and mysteries and often stonewall efforts to apply science to prove or debunk legends just because it means digging it up. Also just because they can...