2 May 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn is arrested at Greenwich
Posted By Claire on May 2, 2017
On this day in history, on the morning of 2nd May 1536, Henry VIII’s friend and groom of the stool, Sir Henry Norris, was escorted to the Tower of London following his interrogation the previous day.
He wasn’t the only person taken to the Tower on 2nd May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn was arrested at Greenwich Palace and then taken to the royal apartments of the Tower of London, arriving there at approximately 5pm.
To commemorate Anne Boleyn’s arrest, I’d like to share with you my account of this day in 1536 from the audio version of my book The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown, which is available from Amazon and Audible:
10 thoughts on “2 May 1536 – Queen Anne Boleyn is arrested at Greenwich”
George Boleyn was also arrested on 2nd May.
He was indeed! He features in the audio so hasn’t been missed out. Should I add him to the text?
How terrified and shocked Anne and the others must have been Anne must have suspected something for she asked Matthew Parker(think his name) to look after Elizabeth I can’t imagine Jane not feeling any compassion for Anne.
Jane does not strike me as a particularly compassionate person. I think, encouraged by he brothers, she was quietly laying in wait.
I can not even imagine the terror Anne felt. I think she probably thought Henry would lock her away – not kill her! How very horribly frightening !
Ever since Henry had abruptly left the May Day tournaments the day before Anne knew something was not quite right, the seeds of discontent which Henry had felt for her had been grumbling ever since her final and fatal miscarriage in January, and she with the heightened sensory perception of a woman in danger had sought out her chaplain Mathew Parker, she had become edgy and more bad tempered, she and Henry were barely on speaking terms although they did from time to time put on a show of unity, such as the May Day tournament, Jane Seymour with her simpering virtue had also driven the wedge between them further, Anne knew something awful was going to happen to her but the most she possibly expected was a messenger from Henry saying he wished to start divorce proceedings and he wished her to go into a nunnery, what she did not expect was to be charged with adultery and incest and plotting to kill her husband, she could not believe her ears and like Smeaton and her alleged lovers she was in a state of shock, she refuted the charges and complained afterwards that she was cruelly handled, her uncle Norfolk was not very sympathetic making sneering tut tut noises at her, they did not get on but did he not realise this would cause untold misery to Annes mother his own sister? The fact that family sentiment had to be put aside was evident in Henrys court as it was speak up and die or shut up and you keep your head, no one must question Henrys will, that was upto his councillors when he sought their advice from time to time, but none of Annes family could defend her you must not question the Kings judgement, she had one champion however in Cranmer who was brave enough to write a letter to the King shortly after telling him ‘he had no better opinion of woman than he had of her’, he knew she was deeply pious and he respected her for that, Cranmer had annulled Henrys first marriage and was a beloved servant of both Henry and Anne, he also could not believe the charges and Annes arrest a Queen Of England was unprecedented and the whole of Europe was stunned, Henry had caused plenty of gossip amongst the courts of Europe but to have his queen arrested was something entirely different especially since he had worked tirelessly for seven long years to have her, Anne was then taken to the dreaded Tower and to her coronation apartments which were at least luxuriously furnished and she was greeted by the Constable of the Tower. William Kingston, she then became hysterical as it had been building up inside her ever since she was told she was accused of adultery and she gave way to laughter and tears, her first night in the Tower must have been dreadful and she must have thought she was in a nightmare, the situation only got worse as she was joined by a group of women who were sent to wait on her but in reality were spies and she had no comfort from them, one was her aunt who was sarcastic to her and she complained that the King knew she didn’t like these women and it was cruel to send them to her, instead of her friends like Madge Shelton and Margaret Wyatt, thus adding salt to the wounds, so she was locked up day and night with a bunch of harpys and suffered the most dreadful anguish, she was not allowed to see Henry, indeed she never saw him again or her daughter who was not quite three, at the moment all she could do was sit and wait and pray, in just over two weeks she would be dead and consigned to history, and she knew history would be her judge, and not just hers but Henrys also, the fact that nearly half a century later many people believe in her innocence as they did in her own time proves that history has been kind to this most maligned queen whearas Henry’s reputation has suffered from which it never quite recovered.
I agree but I have recently read a post on another website where it was said that Anne had no idea what was happening which I find very hard to believe.
Henry’s visits to her bed were more and more infrequent and he had begun to distant himself from her.She was an intelligent woman ,she must have known trouble was brewing although of course would have had no idea of the eventual outcome.
Anne was now in the same position Katherine had been-the unwanted wife who had failed to produce a son and now replaced in Henry’s affections by one of her ladies. History was repeating itself and she must have been very worried.
Anne must have felt terrified, confused, in need of mercy and comfort and her mental trauma was great. Yet, even in her agony she thought of her mother and of the Lady who was named as her accuser in Lancelot de Carles (through gossip) and in Lord Lisles letter, Lady Elizabeth Countess Worcester, whose child had not moved in her whom, showed concern for her fellow accused and asked were her father was and her brother. Anne asked about her brother George, but she didn’t know he had also been arrested that day. Kingston told her he had last seen George at Whitehall. Kingston was assigned to watch and care for Queen Anne at the Tower as the Constable but having a Queen as your prisoner is no small concern. He knew his duty but I also believe he wanted to spare her any more trauma for now so lied about her brother. The whole thing must have been traumatic and exhausting. Anne also showed concern for her mother. Anne asked for the Blessed Sacrament to be placed in her room, but I recently read this wasn’t done as it was not seemly as she had been accused of vile crimes and was an unrepentant prisoner. She asked again and her request was granted. (sorry I can’t remember source). It makes sense though with everything else aimed at her that she would be treated this way. All the poor woman wanted was to pray for mercy. Who were these self righteous men to deny her request? I am certain her request was granted later on but that it may have been denied now proves that guilt and pride were all too readily presumed.
What castle is this a picture of
This is my photo of the Court Gate of the Byward Tower of the Tower of London. Anne would have entered the Tower through this gate when she was taken there on 2nd May 1536.
What castle is pictured?