May 15 – Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, are tried

On this day in history, 15th May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, were tried by a jury of their peers presided over by their own uncle, the Duke of Norfolk.

Did they have any hope of justice?

What happened?

What do the contemporary sources tell us?

And what happened when George disobeyed an order?

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One thought on “May 15 – Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, are tried”
  1. When Anne walked in her usual elegant way to the kings hall in the Tower of London that day the 17th May 1536 she knew she was a condemned woman, this was just another stage in the farce to destroy her reputation her good name, and her position as Queen consort, she did not weep or cry hysterically she conducted herself so well so nobly, did she answer the charges, that everyone watching, and there were many believed in her innocence, there was no real evidence at all it was just lurid gossip akin to a Sunday rag these days, no witnesses were called so Anne had to defend herself and like her brother after her, made a mockery of the farcical trial but of course her pleas of not guilty did no good, she was sentenced to death all the same, for of course she was not allowed to live, when sentence was read out it was noted her colour did not change, there was no emotion, resigned to this from the minute she entered the tower, she was condemned to be burnt or beheaded, of course the swordsman was already on his way from St. Omer to carry out the terrible deed, she spoke clearly to the gallery she said she knew she had been condemned on other reasons that were produced that day, which must have made many of them very uncomfortable, her old nurse Mrs Orchard let out a scream and there must have been murmurings in the crowd, after all this was unprecedented a queen to be put to death! It had never been done before and this really was the scandal of the century, she was then taken back to her apartments where she had to prepare herself for death, it was then George’s turn, and good on George I say, he knew the charges the trials were a complete sham, the other men had been condemned he was accused of incest so he knew there was no hope for him, why not read out aloud the note he was handed why should he stay silent? So to the consternation of the peers and Cromwell he showed them all what contempt he held them in, and also the king who must have known he and his sister were innocent, in Wolf Hall the court erupted into laughter and there was Cromwell standing gravely silent watching him as George mocked the so called prowess of the king, the other ridiculous charge of course was he questioned the paternity of his niece, again why should George do that, why bring into disrepute his sisters morals for daring to question who was her biological father?, the so called evidence for the incest charge was that he was found to be alone a long time with the queen and one witness declared they had kissed in the French fashion, what on earth warrants two siblings guilty of incest if they just happened to be in each other’s company a long time,both the queen and her brother were very close, they were nearest in age they had a lot in common, that does not mean they desired each other, as for the French kissing we can discard that as just evil slander added by Cromwell to make the charge stick, but as with Anne George also was found guilty, even though he bemused the judges with his ready wit there were bets on he would go free, he had to die as had the other men and the queen, indeed he could be found innocent after speaking aloud about the kings impotency, George was well known for his wit his intelligence and his uncle the Duke of Norfolk knew he would make a good account of himself, he had already condemned Anne to either the flames or the axe, now horribly for him he had to condemn another relation to death, this time the full horror of hanging drawing and quartering, as we know he did not suffer that agony like the other victims they were simply beheaded and Anne was to die by the sword, the farce over George was taken back to his cell to prepare for his last days on earth, what must it be like one wonders to be told the date and time of your own death, to see the sands of time running out, to watch the hands on the clock slowly go round to the appointed time? The sheer agony of knowing you will never feel the sun on your face again nor the soft rain of summer, Anne was it is believed about thirty five to thirty six when she died, and George about thirty two, these two dazzling individuals were to leave the court a much less interesting place than when they graced it, it was said regretfully it was never the same again without their wit and sparkle.

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