16 May 1536 – 5 men prepare to die and a queen is in hope of her life

Posted By on May 16, 2018

On this day in history, Tuesday 16th May 1536, five of the seven men imprisoned in the Tower of London to do with Queen Anne Boleyn’s fall prepared for their executions.

While Sir Thomas Wyatt and Sir Richard Page were being held without charge in the Tower, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton and George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, had been found guilty of high treason and were to suffer death by beheading on 17th May 1536.

How on earth do you prepare for your execution? It really doesn’t bear thinking about, but you can click here to read about how these men prepared.

Something very strange happened on this very same day in 1536. Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London and Queen Anne Boleyn’s gaoler, wrote to Thomas Cromwell that “this day at dinner the queen said that she should go to a nunnery and is in hope of life.” How very strange for the queen to be “in hope of life” the day after she has been sentenced to death for high treason. How could this be?

Well, earlier in the day, Anne Boleyn had received a visit from her good friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. He’d been sent to the Tower of London to act as the queen’s confessor and to obtain her consent to the annulment of her marriage to Henry VIII. Had Anne been led to believe that her consent would lead to her being sent to a nunnery instead of being executed? Was Anne reading too much into things or had Cranmer been told to offer her a deal? We will never know.

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