Anne Boleyn's Fortune


Anne Boleyn's Fortune


An account of Anne Boleyn's rise and fall, composed as a fable about a falcon (Boleyn) and a lion (Henry VIII)


In A ffresshe Mornyng Among the flowrys,
My servyce saying at Certayne owrys,
Swetly the Byrdes were syngyng Amonge The shewrys,
for þat Ioye of good fortune.

to walke A-lone I dyd me Aplye;
Among the hylles þat were so hye
I sawe A syghte, – A! for myne Iee, –
þat Came by good fortune.

I mervaylyd whate hyt sholde be:
at laste I espied A company
þat dyd Abyde all on A tree
to seke for fortune.

There Cam A fawcon fayre of flyghte,
And set hyr downe presente in syghte,
so lyke A Byrde Comlye & Bryghte,
whyche thowghte hyt good fortune.

All þat were Abyll to flee with wynge,
they were Ryghte Ioyfull of hyr Comyng,
that swetly they began to syng
for Ioye of good fortune.

A-non from there she sett hyr Iee,
she perceyvyd A mounteyne þat was so hye,
she toke hyr flyghte theder to flye,
to fynde hyt fortune.

Alone on the Toppe þer growde A brere,
þat bare well, I wotte, þe Rose so clere,
whyche fadyd no tyme of the yere;
there fownde she fortune.

In the myddes of the Busshe down dyd she lyghte,
Amonge the Rosys of golde so bryghte,
saying þus: “plesantly I am plyghte
in the prime of my fortune!”

þer Cam A lyon full lovinglye,
þat all the Smalle byrdes þer myght se,
syngyng “fayre fawCon, well-Com to me!
here ys your fortune!”

þe knot of love in hym was faste,
& so farre entryd in to hys bryste,
þat þer he chase þis byrde A neste;
svche was hyr fortune.

she spake þes words presumatlye,
& sayd: “ye Byrdes, behold & se!
do nat gruge, for þis wyll hyt be;
suche ys my fortune.”

A Mavys meke mevyd in mynde,
& sayd: “whoo wyll seke, shall fynde.
be ware A myste make yow not blynd!
truste not on fortune!”

At þe laste cam A storme, & serten thrall
sharper then ony thorne, & A grete fall:
hyt was þen to late to Crye or Call
to helpe, good fortune.

“I was A-bove; nowe am I vnder!
all byrdes may mervayle, & gretly wonder,
so sone from love dessendyd in sonder,
o! whate ys fortune?

“nowe on, nowe none; now well, now wo;
now here, now gon; now to, now froo;
thus I Alone may reporte soo,
as flateryng fortune.

“so derely Bowghte, so friendly sowghte,
And so sone made A quene!
so sone lowe browghte, haþe not ben sene:
o! whate ys Fortune?

“As sleper as yse, consumyd as snowe,
lyke vnto dyse þat men dothe throwe,
tyll hyt be hys chaunce þat he aryse, he shall not knowe
whate shalbe hys fortune.”

They dyd hyr prsente to A towur of stone,
wher as she shold lament hyr self A-lon,
& be consell; for helpe þer was none:
suche was hyr fortune!

She shayd þat “I am com in at þis lytell portall,
so lyke A quene, to Ressseve A Crowne ymperiall;
but nowe am I com to Ressseue A crown in-Mortall:"
suche ys fortune!

"for myne offence I am full woo!
& yf I had hurte my selfe, & nomoo,
I had don welle & I had don soo;
hyt was not my fortune.

"All þat folowith my lyne,
& to my favur they did enclyne,
they may well ban the tyme
þat ever they founde suche fortune!

"I had A lover stedfaste & trewe:
A-lase þat ever I chaungyd for new!
I cowde not Remembyr! full sore I rew
to haue þis fortune!

"And thow I haue my tyme mys-spent,
yet geve me no mys-Iugement!
yf god be pleasyd, be yow contente;
deme not my fortune!

"I truste to hym þat by hys fader sytte,
I haue A place in hevyn made fytte.
I aske for grace; stryke me not yett!
behold my fortune!"

She hylde vp hyr hondes on hye,
& made hyr preste & Redy to dye;
for dethe Aprochyd to hyr so nye,
to ende hyr fortune.

hyr Sowle she comendid in to the handes of Ihesu;
& where she had offendyd, sore dyd she Rewe,
And so entendyd all suche thynges to eschewe,
as was hyr fortune.

Consyder yow all, thow she wylfully dyd offend,
Consyder yow Also how she made hyr ende:
hyt is not we þat Can hyr Amende,
By Iuggyng hyr fortune.

let vs pray to god, of hys mercy & blysse
hyr to for-gyve where she hathe don Amys,
þat he may be hers, & she may be hys,
& send vs good fortune / Amen.

Method of Punishment



high treason


Execution Location

Tower Green (within the Tower of London)

Printing Location

MS reprinted in Frederick J. Furnivall, Ballads from Manuscripts, vol. I (London: The Ballad Society, 1868-72), 402-413.


Harleian MS. 2252, leaf 155


“Anne Boleyn's Fortune,” Execution Ballads, accessed June 15, 2024,

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