2 May 1536 – Anne Boleyn is Arrested

Posted By on May 2, 2014

Tower of London and raven It appears that Anne Boleyn was watching a game of real tennis on 2nd May when a messenger arrived telling her that the King had ordered her to present herself to his privy council. Anne Boleyn left the tennis match and presented herself in the council chamber in front of a royal commission. She was informed that she was being accused of committing adultery with three different men: Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris and a third, unnamed at this stage. She was also told that Smeaton and Norris had confessed. Anne remonstrated with her accusers, but her words had no effect and the royal commission ordered her arrest. Anne was then taken to her apartments until the tide of the Thames turned and then, at two o’clock in the afternoon, she was escorted by barge to the Tower of London and imprisoned in the Queen’s apartments of the Royal Palace, the same apartments she’d stayed in before her coronation.

Sir Henry Norris was already imprisoned in the Tower, having been escorted there at dawn. Mark Smeaton had also been taken there and Chapuys wrote to Charles V on the 2nd May telling him that George Boleyn had been arrested and taken to the Tower three or four hours before his sister.

You can read more about these arrests in my article From Tennis to Tower.

13 thoughts on “2 May 1536 – Anne Boleyn is Arrested”

  1. Angela Matthew says:

    Enjoy these files, am a recent member, teach mediaeval and Tudor history. I feel so sorry for the Lady as her downfall has well and truly begun. Prayers as always are said for the Queen, she was as they say been framed. Look forward to more readings xx

  2. Debbie Rice says:

    As one who loves history, I am new to this…having watched The Tudors peaked my interest…many thanks for all your posts…I feel that Anne deserved better and was framed, just my opinion. I really feel for the lady.

  3. Jean Hopkins says:

    I really feel sorry for Queen Anne, because no matter how much she denied these accusations, her fate was sealed, there was no way she, or those accused with her were going to be free, Henry had made up his mind that he was tired of Anne, and wanted to marry Jane Seymour, to beget a son. I wonder? what would have become of Jane, had she lived, if she hadn’t given him a son? Would he have tired of her in the same way?

    1. kathleen says:

      Most likely, he was a tyrant and if he did not get his way, then he made everyone suffer at his expense!

  4. Gudrun oppitz says:

    I am an austrianhistory teacher and I love most the english history so I enjoy your unteresting postings and infos very much….thank you for your postings…

  5. BanditQueen says:

    Anne must have been afraid and frightened for days and had some idea her time was up when she was summoned to the privy council chambers. Her denials were in vain as the council obviously had its orders to arrest her; and the King must have been following some kind of protocol; although Anne was the first Queen to be executed; others have been summoned to the council before to answer questions, I assume. In any event she was very brave to challenge them; her uncle included, most of them her enemies; and her soul must have been in tormoil, wondering for example what Norris and Smeaton had said, especially as she had quarrelled with Norris a few days before this. But Norris, Rochford, Brereton and Weston did not confess; did they not refuse to confess? Smeaton had claimed to have slept with the Queen; the council had its case for adultery; it did not need more, but wanted to trap her into a confession. Anne was too intelligent and too good for them on this point; she would accept the King’s command and her arrest, she was not going to give them the satisfaction of traping her into a false confession.

    Anne knew that she was innocent; she must have had some belief that her word would be accepted by the commission; but they must have already had orders to arrest her no matter what she said. I feel sorry for Anne at this point as she was utterly abandoned; the women in the Tower were even those sent to spy on her and to get any additional evidence on her from her talk in the Tower. She would never see her husband again; she would only emerge from her prison to stand trial in the Great Hall in the palace at the Tower and for her execution. I have watched the video on the other site on the royal apartments where Anne was kept, the same rooms were she had been before her coronation or at least ones close to them; they looked comfortable; but this time she was under guard and I assume could not wander about the galleries and gardens, but confined to these rooms. Traditionally we are told that Anne may have been able to see the men she was accused with getting executed. I could not really tell from the model as it spun around but it seems her rooms were on the garden side and did not overlook what we know as Tower Hill. I doubt that she saw them executed unless she was moved there to witness, cruelly their demise. Why would she want to witness such a horrible sight, including the beheading of her own brother? Would it not be better to think of them as she had last seen them; enjoying the celebrations on May Day and happy?

    Anne in the Tudors and other films is arrested in her rooms, but the documents say she went to the council and they had her arrested. Could it be that she was questioned and then the Lords came to her and arrested her? Another story is that her uncle Norfolk when she denied it said Tut Tut as if to indicate that he believed her to be guilty and yet we know that when he condemned his niece as the head judge that he did so with tears in his eyes. Was her father a judge? I have read three different accounts all that disagree on this point; one that he was excused as her judge as he was her father? I know I am jumping the gun as you will be covering this later in the month, but do you know if Norfolk at least believed his niece was a traitor. It must have been hard for her mother and father to remain aloof at this time and to even turn their backs on son and daughter, both condemned, if wrongly as adultery and treason. By the way incest came under the religious statues as well as the lawful ones so would have not been a capital crime, but the fact that Anne was the Queen made the accusation more serious. Anne would be seen as attempting to pass of a son of one of these men as the royal heir and so treason was added, with accusations that she intended to marry one of them and raise the son as such an heir. That turned a sinful crime into a criminal felony and it was for treason that they could then be executed, not for adultery. Confused? Yes. It was that Anne had plotted and imagined the Kings death in her careless talk with Norris that they were now to be charged with treason, even though Norris had been horrified and Anne tried to have that stupid conversation put right. The case for the prosecution was based purely on rumour, nonsense, innocent conversations turned against Anne and the others and pure speculation and invention. Innocent actions, courtly love, late night visits by her brother to calm a Queen worried about her state of mind and unable to sleep; visits to her chamber that were impossible as she was recovering from childbirth and no men were allowed in to her lying in chambers; visits that had good reasons behind them and were most likely not totally in private; and a total list of dates and incidents that could only have come out of Cromwells over fertile mind.
    In other words Anne did not stand a chance. The case against her was made before she went to that council chamber and the court would be loaded with her enemies; those who delighted in her fall. She was utterly alone and abandoned, afraid and could take comfort from none of the women with her as none of them had any sympathy for her and did not have any liking for her either. They were there to attend her and to report all she said to Mr Kingston who would report them to the King, Cromwell and the council. It did not matter how many times she made her case or pleaded; Anne, sadly was totally lost and alone.

  6. Susan says:

    500yrs have passed and this outstanding women haunts me !! I think this is one of the saddest love story in history !! Henry V111 you was a wicked man shame on you !!!

    1. Tudor Rose says:

      Indeed! 🙂

  7. Lisa says:

    That’s was no luv story, it was a lust story! What a strange line of families…

    1. Tudor Rose says:

      Love and lust. 😀

  8. oneWyatt says:

    The other unnamed man accused was one Sir Thomas Wyatt (Wiot), the real father of her daughter. Also the father of Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger who lost his head to Bloody Mary for the Wyatt uprising. Not well known was that Son of Sir Henry Wyatt, Sir Thomas Wyatt, the poet, was having a decade long affair with Anne Boleyn ( his wife’s cousin ) until she got pregnant with Elisabeth. About a month after is when she married King Henry the 8th. I see little mention of the Wyatt family involvement in the Tudor family mess. I find the name Wyatt spelled 5 different ways but its always clear who they are. Tudors wouldn’t have been in power except for the Wyatt family. History, for what ever reason is trying to miss that. Its cool though, was a bit of a mess that may or may not have been for the better except for Wyatt off spring, Queen Elisabeth the 1sts time ruling.

    That is the story according to the info that I have seen. Don’t know what I haven’t seen but I am still digging.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      What a load of tosh!

  9. Lynn says:

    Henry VIII, UGH……………..:(

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