The Fall of Anne Boleyn – 1 May 1536 – A Fateful May Day Joust


On 1st May 1536, the annual May Day joust took place at the Tudor royal court. This year, it was at Greenwich Palace.

The king wasn’t jousting as he’d had a scary accident back in that January, so the challengers were led by George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, Queen Anne Boleyn’s brother, and the defenders by Sir Henry Norris, the king’s groom of the stool and good friend. Everything seemed normal at first, but something was going on and very soon these two men would find themselves in the Tower…

If you prefer reading articles to videos, you can read my article from a few years ago – click here.

If you’re interested in my book The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown then you can find out more at You can also get instant access to ten talks on Anne Boleyn’s fall – click here for more information.

cover of The Fall of Anne Boleyn

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One thought on “The Fall of Anne Boleyn – 1 May 1536 – A Fateful May Day Joust”
  1. There is a myth that whilst residing over the joust, Anne gave Henry Norris her kerchief and he wiped his brow with it and they both exchanged smiles which could be inferred as lovers looks, the king having seen this moment pass between them, turned white and stormed out leaving his queen to reside over the May Day celebrations, there is however no contemporary sources that back this up so it remains what it is- a myth, certainly king and queen were seated on the dais and a messenger said something to Henry which made him suddenly rise from his seat and walk off without saying a word to Anne and taking Norris with him, who must have been as bemused as she was, and everyone else that day, Anne must have felt a moment of anxiety niggling away at her as the past month had not been an easy one, she had sensed something was about to happen to her she hardly saw Henry he was always in conference with others and the previous day in the gardens she had been pleading with him about something, likely to be about the foolish conversation she had engaged in with Norris, she must have felt uneasy when she saw him go off with Norris and thought he was going to confront him, she had asked her chaplain to take care of her daughter’s spiritual upbringing a few days prior and so was aware of something sinister about to happen to her, sadly she was not going to have to wait long before she realised what her husband had planned for her, did she watch him canter away that day? , she did not know that was the last she would ever see him, and the handsome men who took turns at the joust she would only see from her prison in the Tower so legend says, as the cart carried their corpses away from the scaffold, May 1st 1536 was to be a very tumultuous day and in just over two weeks five people shockingly one a queen would be slaughtered on the high alter of innocence.

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