On This Day: May 15th

The 15th of May 1536 was the date Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and Henry VIII’s second wife, stood trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest. There is a belief Henry falsified these accusations against his wife and against her family to annul their marriage so that he could move on to his next wife. Adultery on the part of the queen was classed as treason due to the Treason Act of Edward III, this was coupled with a treasonous plot to kill Henry so she could marry one of her alleged lovers.

The jury unanimously found Anne guilty, her brother George was also found guilty and was executed on the 17th May. According to William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London, Anne seemed very happy and ready for her life to end. Henry changed Anne’s sentence from burning to beheading, he also brought a special swordsman from France to perform the execution.

On the morning of the 19th of May Anne was executed.

Anne made her final walk from the Queen’s House to the scaffold and she showed a “devilish spirit” and looked “as gay as if she was not going to die”. Anne climbed the scaffold and made a short speech to the crowd:

Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

 

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