17 May 1536 – Who were the men who were executed in May 1536?

Posted By on May 17, 2017

In the “bloody days”, as Thomas Wyatt called them, of May 1536, not only was a queen executed, but also five courtiers.

If we believe that Queen Anne Boleyn was innocent of all charges then these five men were innocent too and deserve to be remembered just as we remember Anne. Five families were rocked by the executions that day. These men were brothers, sons, friends, royal servants…some were fathers. They were real people and they died because their work had brought them close to the crown. Their loyal service to the king had brought them close to the queen and that was used against them.

Who were these men?

  • George Boleyn, Lord Rochford – Brother of Queen Anne Boleyn and a gifted poet and diplomat, and a friend of the king. Find out more about him in our George Boleyn category of posts, in the George Boleyn Interviews playlist on YouTube or in George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat by Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway.
  • Sir Henry Norris – Henry VIII’s friend and groom of the stool, and a widower who was courting Anne Boleyn’s cousin. Click here to read more about him.
  • Sir Francis Weston – A gentleman of the privy chamber, a man who was made Knight of the Bath in 1533 and a royal favourite who was “daintily nourished under the King’s wing”. Click here to read more about him.
  • William Brereton – A groom of the privy chamber, the son of a leading landowning Cheshire family and a man described by historian Eric Ives as “the dominant royal servant in Cheshire and north Wales”. Click here to read more about him.
  • Mark Smeaton – A court musician from a humble background, a groom of the privy chamber and a man described as “wholly supported and clothed” by the king. Click here to read more about him.

Clare Cherry, co-author of George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat made a video for last year’s Anne Boleyn Day on the men who were executed on 17th May 1536:

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