Sunday, August 23, 2009

i don't see what's so wrong with letting them eat cake...

I spent most of this weekend obsessed with Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette, up at 4am doing ridiculous research for my own personal purposes. I started with Anne Boleyn but then got fascinated by the public beheading aspect and added Marie Anotinette to my docket. 
I got started on Anne Boleyn by watching Steel Magnolias. (I cannot believe I found the clip!) I was struck by an immediate need to know if Anne really did have six fingers on one hand. 
Sadly, she did not. But don't image-google it
Both Anne and Marie had to have massive and humiliating public executions where the last thing they saw was a bunch of people gawking at them. I'm not saying I'd ever want my head chopped off, but I certainly wouldn't want to be paraded around while it was happening. 
The five-fingered Anne Boleyn got to make a little speech before her death, of which there are several versions. The most widely-regarded version was apparently written down months after her death. While I realize there were no electric recording devices available in 1536, you'd think someone could take quill to paper within the hour. It was the former Queen, after all. 
The last thing Marie Antoinette said was an apology to her executioner for stepping on his foot. 
What I found most interesting in my psychotic and unhealthy early-morning research is that both Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette were charged with incest. I kind of startled, sitting up in my bed with my laptop perched on a pillow before me. 
"Incest?" I said it out loud, as if Melissa or Brock would pop out of my closet and say, "Oh really?!?! Let's chat about it!"
I find this fascinating. Obviously. I mean, isn't it?!?! 250 years apart, both of these women were condemned to death for various acts against their country, their accusers adding an incest charge for dramatic, asshole flair. What bold, intense history! What a raw deal! What a strange planet this is, spinning around while shit like this goes on and on for thousands of years. It's almost beautiful, when you think about it. And it makes their deaths seem a little bit less horrific, their beheadings propelling these women into well-dressed, opinionated, misunderstood, complicated, legendary history. All I can think about is huge, corseted gowns pushing themselves through miles of manicured gardens as a metaphor for history and the passage of time and...Oh wait. I'm thinking of Orlando.
Anyway, I've always like Anne Boleyn. I remember touching the stone walls at the Tower of London and wondering if Anne had touched the same walls. I kind of dragged my 12 year old hand along them, as if I was being dragged to my death in 1536. Although I doubt Anne was killed anywhere near the giftshop. 
But really, truth be told, this is just a long way of rudely asking if anyone wants to take me on THIS...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The coolest thing about Anne was how she was the mother of Queen Elizabeth. Also, the debate over whether she needed a bra with 3 cups.

KG said...

Did you ever see this series?
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/sixwives/portrait/index.html

It was so good, I actually read the giant tome it was based on, and loved it! You can totally borrow my copy if you like. Most of it deals with Catherine and Anne of course, but every wife is really fascinating in her own sad or strong way.

Oh, and I'll totally tag along on that "experience."

Spots said...

Oh KG, I've been meaning to come over and tan on your deck anyway. Let's watch!

And 3 boobs?

antfaber said...

Actually marie Antoinette said "Let them eat Brioche", which was translated as "Let them eat cake" because back then normal people (i.e. Americans) didn't know what brioche was.

Lyn Nave said...

The Other Boleyn Girl might add some factiods to your portfolio.