2 May 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, get arrested – The Fall of Anne Boleyn
Posted By Claire on May 2, 2021
On 2nd May 1536, at Greenwich Palace, Queen Anne Boleyn received a message calling her to appear before members of her husband the king’s council. They informed the queen that she stood accused of adultery and was being arrested. It must have been a huge shock for Anne.
That very same day, Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, was arrested at Whitehall Palace.
Find out about their arrests and also a meeting King Henry VIII had with his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, in this video…
Here’s a transcript:
On 2nd May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn was at Greenwich Palace when she received a message informing her that she was to present herself before the king’s council. She duly went to the council chamber, and there, the council, which was presided over by her maternal uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, informed her that she was accused of committing adultery with musician Mark Smeaton, groom of the stool Sir Henry Norris, and one other man, who was unnamed at this time. The council informed her that Norris and Smeaton had confessed.
A shocked Anne denied the charges, but her words fell on deaf ears and she later described how she was “cruelly handled as was never seen” by her husband’s council. As she spoke, her uncle just shook his head, saying “tut, tut, tut”, and Sir William Fitzwilliam ignored her, choosing to daydream instead.
The queen’s arrest was ordered and she was escorted to the royal apartments to prepare herself for her journey to the Tower of London.
By 2pm, the tide of the River Thames had turned, allowing her to be escorted by barge from Greenwich to the Tower. In the barge with the queen, according to Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, were her uncle; and the Lord chamberlains: John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys. However, chronicler Charles Wriothesley disgagrees and records that Anne was accompanied by her uncle, Lord Chancellor Audley, Thomas Cromwell, and Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London.
Anne arrived at Tower Wharf at 5pm and entered the Tower by the Court Gate of the Byward Tower. Wriothesley records that “she fell down on her knees before the said lords, beseeching God to help her as she was not guilty of her accusements.”
Sir William Kingston then led her to the queen’s apartments in the Tower’s royal palace, the same apartments that had been refurbished for her coronation three years earlier. These were to be her prison. Kingston recorded that Anne said “It is too good for me… Jesu have mercy on me” and then she knelt, “weeping a good pace, and in the same sorrow fell into great laughing”. She then asked if Kingston would ask the king to make sure she had the sacrament in her chamber so that “she might pray for mercy, for I am as clear from the company of man as for sin as I am clear from you, and am the king’s true wedded wife.”
Kingston also records that she asked him “shall I died without justice” and that when he replied that “the poorest subject the king hath, hath justice”, she laughed.
Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, was also arrested on 2nd May, but at Whitehall. Chapuys recorded that he had been arrested “for not giving information of her crime”, but, of course, George would soon be charged with committing incest with Anne and plotting with her to kill the king.
Also on this day in 1536, King Henry VIII met with his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, and, according to Chapuys, told him that he and his half-sister, Mary, should thank God “for having escaped from the hands of that woman – i.e. Anne Boleyn – who had planned their death by poison.” Of course, there is no evidence that Anne was planning that at all and she was certainly not charged with it.