19 May 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn is beheaded at the Tower of London

Today is the anniversary of the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, on 19th May 1536.

Anne was beheaded within the Tower of London confines by a swordsman ordered from Calais. There were just seventeen days between her arrest and execution.

In this video, I explain exactly what happened on this day in 1536 and I also share some of Anne’s execution speech.

Later today, I’m on the Tudor Society Instagram answering questions people have asked about Anne Boleyn (from 3pm UK time) and then at 10pm UK time (5pm EDT/2pm PDT), I will be going live on The Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube Channel with a talk and Q&A session on Anne Boleyn’s fall and execution. I hope to see you there. The link for the live event is https://youtu.be/rx24XkZme4w.

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3 thoughts on “19 May 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn is beheaded at the Tower of London”
  1. Anne Boleyn really is a fascinating character, she was tempestuous and strong minded, very intelligent well learned and cultured, possessed of great style and elegance and possessed remarkable courage really she was a woman far ahead of her time, had she lived today she may well be a high powered business woman, she might have decided to run for prime minister, for she had drive and ambition and staying power, all those qualities that make for greatness, instead she lived in the 16th c and thus was hampered by the constraints of her age, women were mere chattels firstly, they could do nothing without their fathers bidding, then when they married they became the property of their husband, everything they owned also belonged to him, and it was also within the law for husbands to beat their wives if they misbehaved, or just angered him, but Anne’s father saw something in her that set her on the road to fame and fortune, she was highly precocious and therefore she was given an enviable education, first in Austria and then in France, the two most cultured and sophisticated courts in Europe, they moulded her in the woman she was to become, from a country lass in Kent she turned into a stylish sophisticated and cultured woman, it was said when she made her debut at the English court she took it by storm, the men were a little dazzled by this young slender woman with the faintly exotic air of the continent, she had a slight French accent and her style of dress was also French, for centuries French women have been lauded for being the smartest and elegant women in Europe, they are to this day and so we can see how different she must have appeared to her contemporaries, some men praised her highly, Lancelot de Carlos described her as very beautiful with an elegant figure, she was said to have had compelling eyes black and beautiful is how someone described them, and she used them in such a way to send secret messages to the heart, in other words she flirted with them, she probably had long dark lashes to and women always know how to flutter them to their advantage, she was dark not ivory skinned which has always been seen as the ideal of beauty, and she had dark hair of an extraordinary length, it was said to be so long she could sit on it, against the pink and white English ladies she must have appeared like a rare bird of paradise, obviously such a woman would make an impact on many men and the king was one of them, the love affair between Henry V111 and Anne Boleyn is one of history’s great love stories but sadly, it did not endure and her brutal and bloody end was the final chapter in the tragedy that was Henry V111’s second queen, she was a most remarkable woman in that she alone out of all the kings conquests refused to become his mistress, yet all unbeknown for her, that decision set her on the road to the scaffold, in turn she ruined many people’s lives, she usurped a true queen from her position and nearly caused civil war, some men died because of her, imminent men to, she was responsible for the break from Rome up until then, England had been Catholic, she was responsible for the founding of the new church, the Church of England of which every monarch has been head of since, without her England would not have suffered religious turmoil and five men later died, because of connection to her, her fall is mysterious as the enchantment she had over the king, no wonder Henry V111 one said he had been seduced into marriage by sorcery, her life was as dramatic as her death and she still remains a highly fascinating figure, nearly five hundred years after her death, many hated her including the people of England, and supporters of Henrys first queen, yet many loved her to those who were equally enchanted by her as the king was, and she had followers,those of whom were keen on reform, the new religion that had been slowly making its away around Europe, these were people who detested Roman Catholicism and the idols and fripperies of that church, her enemies would later blame her for the scourge of heresy, yet she was no heretic or Lutheran as those followers of Martin Luther called themselves, England was still a Catholic country but ruled by the king not the pope, Henry V111 himself died in the Catholic faith and Anne swore on the blessed sacrament of her innocence, she was only in her mid thirties when her life was cut short having failed to give the king the son she had promised, she was still therefore of childbearing age, I think when Anne was offered marriage she was swept away on a tidal wave of ambition, from mere knights daughter to Queen of England, she had certainly not dreamt of that, she thought highly of herself and was no immoral woman she did not wish to be used and discarded, but she could never have dreamt she would be offered marriage and so be his wife and consort, hardly surprising she pledged herself to the king, and so besotted by her was Henry V111, that she must have thought he would be her slave forever, his ardent love letters to her stored in the Vatican, now yellowed with age are testament to that great love and the passion he felt for her, yet within a few years of marriage that great passion that had moved mountains to possess her had died, like the light suddenly going out, she had been queen for just three years, and when she arose that morning on the 19th of May, four hundred and eighty five years ago, she was aware she was making history as the first queen ever to be executed in living memory, and history would be her judge and not just hers, but also her husband on whose orders she was to die, maybe she hoped she would not be judged too harshly, in fact her name has been cleared of the infamy she was accused of over the centuries, in her time she was degraded and treated most harshly, she was not given a fair trial and her execution was merely judicial murder, many did not believe the charges then and in fact, it has been Henry V111 whose deeds and character have been strongly criticised, his shameful marriage to Jane Seymour only seemed to affirm Anne’s innocence, she had made such an impact on the worlds stage she was a colourful and vibrant larger than life figure, yet it took a mere second to end her life and from that moment, she became a non entity, vanished into the darkness her body was consigned to, her name was never spoken of again, her portraits were taken down and hidden or destroyed, her initials were being obliterated by the stonemasons in the many buildings and palaces around the country, it was as if Anne Boleyn had never existed at all, except those that had loved her and wept for her, and by the mumbling masses in London who thought it most odd that within two weeks, they would shockingly be presented with a new queen.

  2. An innocent woman was executed yesterday on 19th May 1536 and made a beautiful and powerful speech before her head was struck from her body with a sword. She was the second wife of King Henry Viii and he claimed tp love her so much that he literally turned England upside down to marry her, after 7 years of passionate pursuit and a loving relationship. However, something went wrong and he no longer loved her. But instead of getting a divorce, he vowed to utterly destroy her. His First Minister invented a load of false charges against her and five innocent men. The men were also arrested and executed. One was her own brother, George. She left a little daughter aged two and a half behind her and wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye. Not everyone liked her and this woman wasn’t perfect and made many human errors. She was Queen of England for just three years but her story is eternal. Her name was Anne Boleyn and we remember her today.

    Rest in peace, Queen Anne Boleyn. YNWA.

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