In Memory of Five Innocent Men – 17 May 1536

| May 17, 2015

In Memory of Five Innocent Men – 17 May 1536

I sometimes feel that Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, get forgotten about. On social media, there are often pleas to get Anne Boleyn pardoned or moved from St Peter ad Vincula, and visitors take flowers to her resting place on 19th May each year, but […]

17 May 1536 – These bloody days have broken my heart

| May 17, 2015

17 May 1536 – These bloody days have broken my heart

The famous Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt the Elder wrote two poems about the executions he witnessed in 1536 from his prison in the Bell Tower of the Tower of London. In one, he wrote of how “These bloody days have broken my heart” and I am always moved by those words and the refrain at […]

12 May 1536 – Norris, Brereton, Smeaton and Weston tried at Westminster Hall

| May 12, 2015

12 May 1536 – Norris, Brereton, Smeaton and Weston tried at Westminster Hall

On 12th May 1536, Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, escorted Sir Henry Norris, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton and Sir Francis Weston by barge from the Tower of London to Westminster. The four men were brought before a special commission of oyer and terminer at Westminster Hall and arraigned for high treason. […]

10 May 1536 – Grand Jury of Middlesex’s decision

| May 10, 2015

10 May 1536 – Grand Jury of Middlesex’s decision

On 10th May 1536, Giles Heron, foreman of the Grand Jury of Middlesex and son-in-law of the late Sir Thomas More, announced that the jury had decided that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton were guilty of the alleged […]

8 May 1536 – The vultures begin to circle

| May 8, 2015

8 May 1536 – The vultures begin to circle

On 8th May 1536, while Anne Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton, George Boleyn, Sir Richard Page and Sir Thomas Wyatt were in prison at the Tower of London, courtiers were busy writing letters to put forward their claims for offices and titles that may soon become vacant. In […]

1 May 1536 – Henry VIII leaves the May Day joust suddenly

| May 1, 2015

1 May 1536 – Henry VIII leaves the May Day joust suddenly

Following their argument the day before, King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn attended the traditional May Day joust at Greenwich Palace together. Anne would have been unaware of the apprehension of court musician Mark Smeaton the day before but she must have been aware that something was going on at court – Henry VIII […]

29 April 1536 – You look for dead men’s shoes

| April 29, 2015

29 April 1536 – You look for dead men’s shoes

On 29th April 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn had two encounters with male courtiers which she later worried about when imprisoned in the Tower. The first involved court musician Mark Smeaton and the second involved Sir Henry Norris, her husband’s Groom of the Stool and a man who was courting Anne’s cousin, Madge Shelton. Both were […]

17 May 1536 – The Executions of Norris, Weston, Brereton, Smeaton and Rochford

| May 17, 2014

17 May 1536 – The Executions of Norris, Weston, Brereton, Smeaton and Rochford

On 17th May 1536, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Mark Smeaton, William Brereton and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, were executed on Tower Hill. They had all been found guilty of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, but their sentences had been commuted to the more merciful death by […]