Thursday, May 2, 2019

May 2: Arrest of Anne Bolelyn

Blogger: Amber Schamel
Anne Boleyn
(Public Domain)

Today is May 2nd and happens to be a very notable day in Tudor history. It is the date that Anne Boleyn was arrested and taken to the tower of London in 1536.

Anne Boleyn, daughter of the Earl of Wiltshire, managed to capture attentions of the king when she was introduced to the English court after her return from France. Her charm and beauty completely enamored him, and he was willing to be excommunicated from the church in order to marry her. Needless to say, Anne Boleyn became the second wife of Henry VIII.

Since most of us are familiar with the general story of Anne Boleyn, in this post we will focus on the arrest and imprisonment of Anne.

Anne Boleyn seemed to be the most captivating of Henry’s wives, so why did she lose favor? That is the center of much debate and speculation, but whatever the cause, Anne and Henry’s relationship deteriorated, and her husband was now beginning to dabble with other women. Her fall from favor was the chance for her many enemies to make their move. They devised a masterful plot that would accuse her of such heinous crimes that she couldn’t possibly defend herself and would include her friends as conspirators so they would be helpless to aid her.

Sir Thomas Cromwell, chief secretary, informed the king that he was menaced by grave danger and a special session must be called to try the offenders. The king signed the commission, and Cromwell began gather “evidence” against Anne.

During the May Day celebration at Greenwich, Anne and Henry appeared together and seemed to be on tolerable terms, but after the festivities, Henry began making statements and questions to several of her close friends and couturiers, namely Henry Noreys and Mark Smeton. Their answers did not satisfy Henry, and they were immediately arrested and confined in London Tower where they were probably coerced into “confession.”

“She [Anne] was absolutely without means of defense. Henry had gone to be out of the way, and she could not bring her personal influence to bear on him. The few friends she had were equally out of reach, most of them having gone with the king to London; so she could do nothing but await her doom. Even flight was impossible, for had she been able to leave the palace and to go on board a ship—to elude the vigilance of the searchers and to cross the sea—she would not have been safe. Neither Charles nor Francis would have afforded her an asylum; her flight would have been taken as a clear proof of guilt, and she would have been given up in accordance with the treaties which forbade the various sovereigns to shelter one another's traitors.” article on Anne Boleyn’s Arrest

The next morning, May 2nd, Anne received a summons. She obeyed and was informed that she was accused of adultery with three men. When her vain attempts to defend herself fell flat, her response was to rebuke the commissioners for their rudeness, but what else could she do? None would listen to her defense, and they did not treat her with any courtesy. In the end, she was ordered under-arrest and to be taken to the tower.
Anne Boleyn's Arrest
(Public Domain)

Anne was kept in her apartment until a barge arrived for her at 2pm. Many people had assembled on the banks to watch as she boarded with a detachment of guards and was taken to the tower. She maintained her composure until after the gates had shut behind her and she was in the hands of the constable. She asked if she was being taken to the dungeon, but the constable assured her she was being taken to the lodgings she had stayed in before her coronation. Still, she exclaimed, “It is too good for me.” She fell to her knees and burst into hysteria, alternating between laughter and tears.

Of course, Anne knew it was only a matter of time before she would meet her doom. It was seventeen days between her arrest and her execution on May 19th.


Learn more about Anne Boleyn and her influence on History in Amber's book, 12 Sisters Who Changed History
Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. Thanks for the post. This book is on my TBR list.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Connie! I hope you enjoy the book as well. Thanks for coming by!

  2. Interesting post about Anne Bolelyn. Thank you for sharing, Amber.