It’s a sad day today here at The Anne Boleyn Files, as we think about the trial of Anne Boleyn, and her brother George, that took place on this day (15th May) in 1536 in the King’s Hall, the Tower of London. The day when our heroine was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death.
Here are the events of this dark day in English history:-
Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and second wife of Tudor monarch, Henry VIII, was accused of treason under statute 26 (Henry VIII c.13), a statute which had actually been brought into force to protect her and Princess Elizabeth, and also with slandering the royal issue (statute 25 Henry VIII c.22, March 1534). Her indictment accused Anne of:
“despising her marriage and entertaining malice against the King, and following daily her frail and carnal lust.”
According to her indictment, she had seduced the five men who were also charged with treason and had plotted the King’s death. It was said that:
“On 6th October at the palace of Westminster… and on various other days before and after, by sweet words, kissings, touchings, and other illicit means… she did procure and incite… Henry Norris… a gentleman of the Privy Chamber of our lord the King, to violate and carnally know her, by reason whereof the same Henry Norris on 12th October… violated, stained and carnally knew her…”
Anne Boleyn was also accused of committing adultery with Henry Norris on 12th and 19th November 1533, with Sir William on 16th and 27th November, and the 3rd and 8th Decemer 1533, with Sir Francis Weston on 8th and 20th May, and the 6th and 20th June 1534, and with Mark Smeaton on 13th and 19th May 1534. Additionally, Anne was accused of committing incest with her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, on 2nd November and the 22nd and 29th December 1535. In all, Anne was accused of twenty acts of adultery.
As for the incest, according to court records, Anne:
“tempted her brother with her tongue in the said George’s mouth and the said George’s tongue in hers.”
Completely innocent actions, such as giving money to courtiers and dancing with her brother, were used as evidence against Anne and Anne did not stand a chance. Even the fact that Anne had alibis for 12 of the occasions when she was meant to be committing adultery did not seem to matter, after all, Anne Boleyn was a witch and witches could do anything!
The five men, apart from Norris, were also charged with sodomy (Note: Joanna Denny writes this and Retha Warnicke is also of the view that the men had committed sodomy but according to their indictments and the work of other historians they were not actually charged with it, it was just hinted at), so not only had Anne Boleyn committed adultery, she had slept with satanic homosexuals!
The court, presided over by Anne’s uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, as lord steward, unanimously declared Anne Boleyn guilty of all charges, although she had pled “not guilty”, and Norfolk said:
“Because thou has offended our sovereign the King’s grace in committing treason against his person and here attainted of the same, the law of the realm is this, thou hast deserved death, and thy judgement is this: that thou shalt be burned here within the Tower of London, on the Green, else to have thy head smitten off, as the King’s pleasure shall be further known of the same.”
Anne Boleyn then gave the following speech:
“I do not say that I have always borne towards the King the humility which I owed him, considering his kindness and the great honour he showed me and the great respect he always paid me; I admit too, that often I have taken it into my head to be jealous of him… But may God be my witness if I have done him any other wrong.”
It was then that Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Anne’s former sweetheart, collapsed and had to be taken out of the courtroom. The sentence and Anne’s speech were obviously too much for him, especially as he had also had to pronounce her “guilty”. It was then the turn of George Boleyn to be tried and sentenced. Like Anne, he pled “not guilty”, but was found guilty and sentenced to death also.
A False Trial
We now know that all of the charges against Anne were complete fiction created by Cromwell and his fellow plotters, Chapuys and the Catholic Conservatives. We also know that Anne had absolutely no chance of winning her case, seeing as her household was broken up two days before her court case and that Chapuys recorded that Henry VIII told Jane Seymour on the morning of Anne’s trial that Anne would be condemned that day. The King was also busy planning his wedding to Jane Seymour, something he could not do if Anne was found inocent.
Although many put all of the blame for Anne’s death on the shoulders of Thomas Cromwell, I have to agree with Joanna Denny when she says:
“Henry’s hand in the whole sordid business is clearly seen: the real blood-guilt lies with the King. The source of all the horror and brutality was Henry. The whole world revolved around him and his ego.”
There’s no way that Henry was ignorant of what Cromwell was doing. The King knew everything that went on around him and even though he may not have been guilty of trumping up these charges, he certainly was not disputing them.
I will end this post here, but watch out for my next blog on Anne Boleyn in the Tower. You can read more about the Fall of Anne Boleyn in my FREE report – click here for more information.
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(Sources: “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn” by Eric Ives and “Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen” by Joanna Denny)