Are you a traveller planning a visit to the UK with a keen interest in Tudor history or a general interest in British history? If so, you may find yourself captivated by the events of the month of May 1536 and the intriguing connection to some historical sites involving the Boleyns, a prominent family during the Tudor era. The beautiful historical sites showcase opulence and grandeur of aristocracy that were a significant backdrop to these pivotal events in British history.
May 1536 was a time when significant events unfolded, shaping the destiny of the Boleyns and leaving an indelible mark on English history. From coronation and arrests to tragic endings, the month of May unveils a fascinating tapestry of the Boleyns’ story within Tudor history amidst the backdrop of magnificent sites.
This guide delves into the significant Tudor events of May 1536 and highlights the historical sites related to these events. With this guide, you’ll have a unique perspective on Tudor England and an enhanced journey through the rich tapestry of the past. Get ready to immerse yourself in the captivating world of the Boleyns whilst unravelling the connections between the month of May and their enduring legacy in the historical sites sprinkled throughout England.
Here’s an overview of what is covered in this article:
- Significant Events for the Boleyns in the Month of May 1536;
- The Consequences of Events in May 1536 and Tudor History;
- May 1536 Historical Sites and Tudor Palaces Associated with the Boleyns;
- Tudor Traditions Associated with the Month of May;
- What’s new on the blog.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS FOR THE BOLEYNS IN THE MONTH OF MAY 1536
The month of May in Tudor history holds particular significance for the Boleyn family, who played a prominent role during the reign of King Henry VIII.
Here are some notable events related to the Boleyns in May:
May 29, 1533
May 29, 1533 marks the beginning of celebrations of Anne Boleyn’s Coronation. On this day, Anne Boleyn embarked on a grand river procession along the Thames River to the Tower of London. She boarded a splendidly decorated barge. Accompanying Anne was her mother, Elizabeth Howard-Boleyn along with other noble ladies and officials of the royal court.
As the barge approached the Tower of London, a magnificent spectacle unfolded. Cannons were fired. Cheering crowds lined the walls of the Tower, creating an atmosphere of jubilation.
Anne Boleyn stayed at the Tower in preparation for her coronation as Queen Consort to King Henry VIII of England on June 1st 1533 in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey. This event marked the height of her influence and power.
Fast forward 3 years to 1536
May 2, 1536: Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn’s Arrest
On May 2, 1536, Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England, and her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, were both arrested. The charges brought against them were grave and included accusations of adultery, incest, and treason.
This momentous event in May 1536 was the beginning of several events that marked a significant time in Tudor history.
The Plot and Charges against Anne Boleyn
The charges against Anne Boleyn were part of a larger political scheme and a culmination of various factors, including her failure to produce a male heir, growing discontent within the court, and the king’s infatuation with Jane Seymour, one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting.
Multiple individuals and factions played significant roles in the events that led to her arrest, trial, and execution. Here are a few key figures commonly associated with the circumstances leading to Anne Boleyn’s arrest and her subsequent execution:
Thomas Cromwell: As the chief minister to King Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell is often considered a central figure in orchestrating Anne Boleyn’s downfall. Cromwell had his own political agenda and saw an opportunity to remove Anne from power, given the king’s growing dissatisfaction with her. He conducted the investigations and trials that ultimately resulted in Anne’s conviction.
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk: Thomas Howard, a powerful nobleman and Anne Boleyn’s uncle, played a significant role in the events leading to her downfall. He was involved in the investigation, sat on the jury at her trial, and was a key figure in the political maneuverings that aimed to remove Anne from her position as queen.
Jane Seymour: Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn and later Henry VIII’s third wife, is often viewed as a potential instigator or beneficiary of Anne’s downfall. Henry VIII’s infatuation with Jane Seymour and the desire for a male heir created an incentive for Anne’s removal. However, Jane Seymour’s exact involvement in the events leading to Anne’s downfall is not definitively known.
King Henry VIII: Ultimately, the decisions and actions of King Henry VIII played a crucial role in Anne Boleyn’s downfall. His dissatisfaction with their marriage, his desire for a male heir, and his infatuation with other women, such as Jane Seymour, influenced the events that led to Anne’s arrest, trial, and execution.
May 15, 1536: Anne Boleyn’s Trial
Following her arrest, Anne was imprisoned in the Tower of London, the same fortress where she had previously been celebrated during her coronation.
The trial of Anne Boleyn took place on May 15, 1536. It was held at the King’s Hall of the Tower of London. A significant and foreboding setting for such a momentous event with an estimated 2000 spectators.
Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England, stood trial on charges of adultery, incest, and treason. The trial was conducted by a special commission led by Anne’s uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who served as the Lord High Steward. The proceedings were highly orchestrated, and the outcome was largely predetermined. Witnesses were brought forward to testify against Anne, including her alleged lovers and individuals who claimed to have knowledge of her illicit relationships.
Despite Anne’s spirited defense and maintaining her innocence throughout the trial, she was found guilty. The jury, included peers of the realm, as well as Henry Percy, her former fiancé. They found her guilty on all charges. The guilty verdict sealed her fate and set the stage for her subsequent execution.
At some point between May 12 and May 17, 1536: George Boleyn’s Trial
The exact details of George Boleyn’s trial are not as extensively documented as Anne Boleyn’s trial. While Anne Boleyn’s trial took place on May 15, 1536, at the King’s Hall of the Tower of London, the specific date and location of George Boleyn’s trial are not as clear.
Some historical sources suggest that George Boleyn and the other accused men were tried separately from Anne Boleyn at Westminster Hall on May 12, 1536. Others indicate that their trials may have taken place on the same day on May 15, 1536 at the King’s Hall in Tower of London, presided over by their uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.
May 17, 1536: The Execution of George Boleyn
George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, brother of Anne Boleyn was executed on the morning of 17 May 1536. He was one of several men accused of being Anne’s alleged lovers.
George’s execution took place on Tower Hill, a scaffold located just outside the Tower of London. Alongside him, four other men, including Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton, and Mark Smeaton, were found guilty of having an affair with Anne Boleyn. They were executed on the same day for adultery and treason.
According to records, George Boleyn is said to have given a long final speech before his execution. Here is an excerpt from that speech:
“If I had, I had been a living man among you. Therefore, I pray you, masters all, for God’s sake stick to the truth and follow it, for one good follower is worth three readers, as God knoweth.”
— an excerpt from George Boleyn’s execution speech according to the Chronicle of Calais, 16 May 2015.
The excerpt suggests that George Boleyn expressed a desire for truth and encouraged those present to adhere to it. His words imply a plea for honesty and for his story to be accurately remembered.
*The Chronicle of Calais is regarded as one of the primary contemporary sources of the events surrounding Anne Boleyn’s downfall. The work is reproduced from the original artefact, maintaining its authenticity and integrity as much as possible.
May 19, 1536: Execution of Anne Boleyn
On May 19, 1536, the execution of Anne Boleyn marked a tragic and pivotal event in Tudor history.
Found guilty on the charges of adultery, incest, and treason, Anne Boleyn was brought to the scaffold which was specially erected for her at the Tower of London to face her ultimate fate, bringing an abrupt end to her tumultuous journey as Queen Consort of England.
Recommended read: Anne Boleyn: The Most Magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF EVENTS IN MAY 1536 AND TUDOR HISTORY
How did Anne Boleyn’s execution influence the landscape of Tudor history?
The events that unfolded in May 1536 had far-reaching consequences, extending beyond the Boleyn family. The trial and execution of Anne Boleyn had a profound impact on various aspects of society, religion, politics, and even gender dynamics, shaping the course of English history during the tumultuous Tudor era.
The events of May 1536 significantly impacted the English monarchy. Anne Boleyn’s execution marked the first time in English history that a queen consort was publicly executed. This sent shock-waves throughout the country and beyond, challenging traditional notions of queen-ship and raising questions about the stability and legitimacy of the monarchy itself.
Further, the events surrounding Anne’s downfall influenced religious developments in England. Anne was a key advocate of Protestant reform and had a significant influence on King Henry VIII’s break from the Catholic Church.
However, following Anne’s death, Henry moved away from the Protestant leanings associated with Anne and adopted more conservative religious measures. This led to the reinstatement of conservative Catholic practices and the suppression of Protestant reforms. Henry VIII died as a Catholic. This had a lasting impact on the trajectory of the English Reformation and the religious landscape of the nation.
Additionally, the trials and executions of Anne Boleyn, her brother George, and others implicated in their alleged offenses highlighted the dangers of courtly intrigue and the precarious nature of power within the Tudor court. It demonstrated how individuals could rise to great heights only to face sudden and tragic falls, emphasizing the complexities and perils of political alliances and personal relationships in a court environment.
Moreover, the events of May 1536 had implications for gender dynamics and the role of women in Tudor society. Anne Boleyn’s execution was viewed by some as a cautionary tale for women who dared to assert their influence and challenge traditional gender norms. It served as a stark reminder of the limited agency and vulnerability faced by women, even those in positions of power.
The events that unfolded in the month of May 1536, were undeniably a somber and significant time in Tudor and British history.
MAY 1536 HISTORICAL SITES AND TUDOR PALACES ASSOCIATED WITH THE BOLEYNS
Following the events of May 1536, there are several beautiful historical sites that showcase opulence and grandeur of aristocracy associated with the story of the Boleyns that hold great historical significance.
These sites provide a tangible connection to the lives and legacies of Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, and their family. Exploring these locations offers a unique opportunity to delve into the rich history of the Boleyns and their impact on Tudor England.
Some notable historical sites associated with the Boleyns include:
Hever Castle, Kent
A remarkable historical site nestled amidst the picturesque rural countryside in Kent. Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. It is a well-preserved castle, surrounded by a splendid moat with beautiful gardens. A visit to Hever Castle provides a glimpse into the early life of Anne before she rose to prominence.
The castle’s countryside location adds to its charm, providing a serene and tranquil atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.
One of the highlights in Hever Castle is the Anne Boleyn Prayer Book which is on display in the Book of Hours Room at the Castle.
How to visit Hever Castle, Kent
Hever Castle, is conveniently situated just 48 km (30 miles) from central London. Nestled in the village of Hever, southeast of Edenbridge, it can be easily accessed by various modes of transportation.
For those traveling by car, Junction 10 of the M23 provides a direct route to the castle. Junctions 5 and 6 of the M25 and the Hildenborough exit of the A21 are also well-signposted. If you are looking to hire a car, there is a wide range offered by Discover Cars which you may want to take a look.
If you prefer to travel by train to Hever Castle, there are regular services from London Victoria and London Bridge. Trains typically run via Oxted or East Croydon, with Edenbridge Town Station serving as the nearest rail stop. From there, it’s a short taxi ride to reach the castle.
Hever Castle’s proximity to the channel ports and tunnel makes it accessible to international visitors arriving from Europe. Eurostar terminal at Ashford is located 1.5 hours by road. Additionally, Gatwick Airport is just a short 30-minute drive away from Hever Castle.
Hever Castle makes a convenient destination for visitors arriving by air, allowing them to seamlessly incorporate a visit to the castle into their travel plans.
The accessibility of Hever Castle from London and its surrounding areas makes it an ideal destination for day trips or longer visits.
Address: Hever Rd, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG
Read this guide about the Magnificent Hever Castle: Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home for a complete guide including tips for where to stay. You could even stay at Hever Castle for a truly grand experience.
The Tower of London, London
The Tower of London is perhaps the most significant historical site associated with the month of May 1536 and the Boleyns. It was here that Anne Boleyn was imprisoned before her execution.
Visiting the Tower allows you to explore the very place where she faced her final days and tumultuous events that took place in the month of May 1536.
A poignant sculpture, close to the spot where Anne’s scaffold was erected, now stands as a memorial to all those who were executed within the walls of The Fortress.
How to visit The Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the most visited landmarks in Britain with several ticket options and ways to visit.
Go here to explore the 7 possible options to visit the Tower and best tips to save money on tickets to the Tower. For a quick guide, the following three are the best ticket options for the Tower of London:
Highly recommended read: How to save money with The London Pass.
Recommended read: Complete Guide to The Tower of London: Beyond the Fortress Walls.
Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
Hampton Court Palace, a grand Tudor Palace, located on the south of the River Thames, in London, was a favoured residence of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. While Anne’s time at the palace was relatively brief, it was a significant location for Anne Boleyn and the events of May 1536.
During the early stages of their relationship, Henry VIII would often visit Hampton Court. It was at Hampton Court that he pursued Anne and lavished her with attention, further fueling their romantic connection. The palace served as a backdrop for their courtly love and became a sanctuary where they could privately spend time together.
However, Hampton Court Palace also holds bittersweet memories for Anne Boleyn. It was within the palace’s walls that the cracks in their relationship began to appear. Anne’s inability to produce a male heir, combined with political pressures and her growing unpopularity among the nobility, strained their marriage. The palace became a backdrop for their marital troubles and the unraveling of their once passionate romance.
In 1536, Anne was temporarily confined at Hampton Court Palace before her trial for treason. It was from Hampton Court that she was transferred to the Tower of London, where she faced her ultimate fate. Apparently, Anne’s ghost still haunts the corridors of Hampton Court Palace.
Exploring the palace offers insights into their courtly life and the opulence of the Tudor era.
How to Visit the Hampton Court Palace
The nearest station to Hampton Court Palace is Hampton Court Station.
Address: Hampton Ct Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU
TIP: *Hampton Court Palace is situated on the outskirts of London and technically comes under Surrey. Nonetheless, it is included in Zone 6 of the Transport for London network. This means you can use your Oyster Card for journeys here.
There are several ticket options but the best ones are these two:
A Guided Tour by a Former State Apartment Warder of 15 Years: Unpicking History, Architecture and Everything from Henry VIII to Ghosts.
Recommended read: Anne Boleyn: The Most Well Travelled Ghost in England.
St. Peter ad Vincula Chapel, The Tower of London
Situated within the Tower of London, St. Peter ad Vincula Chapel is where Anne Boleyn, along with her brother, George Boleyn were buried after their execution. It serves as a memorial to her and a place of remembrance for those who suffered a similar fate.
You can visit the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula for worship or when visiting the Tower of London. Access is included in the one ticket to the Tower.
Blickling Hall, Norfolk
Blickling Hall is a Jacobean stately home built on the ruins of a Tudor building in 1616. The mansion along with its 5000 acres of parkland is managed by National Trust England.
Blickling Hall is associated with the Boleyn family and is believed to be the birthplace of Anne Boleyn and her siblings, George and Mary Boleyn. The hall, with its stunning architecture and gardens, provides a glimpse into the ancestral heritage of the Boleyns.
How to Visit Blickling Hall, Norfolk
To get to Blickling Hall in Norfolk, England:
By car, the estate is reached in the village of Blickling, approximately 20 km (13 miles) north of Norwich.
The address for your GPS is: Blickling, Norwich, Norfolk, NR11 6NF.
There is a car park available for visitors at the site.
If you prefer to use public transportation, you can take a train to Norwich, which is well-connected to major cities in the UK. From Norwich, you can use local bus services to reach Blickling Hall. Alternatively, you can take a taxi from Norwich to the estate, which is about a 30-minute drive
TUDOR TRADITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE MONTH OF MAY
One of the most important Tudor traditions is the May Day Celebrations which is still observed to this day.
May Day was an important holiday in Tudor England. Festivities such as Maypole dances, processions, and other traditional celebrations took place to welcome the arrival of spring. May Day was also an important day for Tudor farmers as they would be given a day off from work.
Go here to read more about the Month of May and what it means.
The episodes of May 1536 involving the Boleyns and the significant historical sites associated with this tumultuous period offer a fascinating journey through Tudor history in England.
By visiting historical sites such as the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Hever Castle, and Blickling Hall, you can immerse in the rich tapestry of the past and witness firsthand the locations where these events unfolded. These sites serve as reminders of the lives, struggles, and legacies of the Boleyns, providing a unique perspective on Tudor England and British history. A visit to any of these remarkable sites makes for a truly captivating historical journey.
For a complete picture of the influence of the Boleyns, Tudor history and the Boleyn lineage to the present royal family in the UK, take a look at these stories in addition to the suggested recommended reads above: