16 May 1536 – Anne Boleyn thinks she could go to a nunnery – The Fall of Anne Boleyn

On this day in Tudor history, 16th May 1536, just the day after she had been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death, Queen Anne Boleyn was suddenly hopeful and seemed to think her life might be spared.

Why? What could have made her so hopeful?

Find out more about what happened to Anne on this day, and about the five men, who were preparing for their executions, in this video:

Here is the transcript:

On this day in 1536, 16th May, Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London and Queen Anne Boleyn’s gaoler, reported something strange in his daily report to Thomas Cromwell. He wrote that “this day at dinner the queen said that she should go to a nunnery and is in hope of life.” Yet this was just a day after Anne had been found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. How very strange!

Earlier in the day, Anne had received a visit from her good friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer., who had been sent to the Tower to act as her confessor and to obtain her consent to the annulment of her marriage to Henry VIII. Had something happened at their meeting to lead Anne to believe that she might yet be saved.

Perhaps Cranmer had offered her some kind of deal – if she consented to the annulment then she could be sent to a nunnery instead of being executed. Or was Anne just clutching at straws? We’ll never know. But it’s odd.

In another part of the Tower of London, five men were preparing for their executions which were scheduled for the next day. They were waiting to make their last confessions. Sir Francis Weston took the time to write a letter of farewell to his parents, which he included with a list of his debts for them to pay on his behalf. He wrote:
“Father and mother and wife, I shall humbly desire you, for the salvation of my soul, to discharge me of this bill, and for to forgive me of all the offences that I have done to you, and in especial to my wife, which I desire for the love of God to forgive me, and to pray for me: for I believe prayer will do me good. God’s blessing have my children and mine.
By me, a great offender to God.”

George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, also had debts on his mind. He had fretted about this issue the whole time of his imprisonment, worrying that those he owed money to would not be paid and that those who owed him money would end up getting into trouble if they had to pay the King instead. It is so sad that his final days were spent in worry for others.

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