May 2nd marks the anniversary of the day in 1536 when Queen Anne Boleyn was arrested at Greenwich Palace and taken by river to the Tower of London. She was shown some courtesy on her arrival not normally afforded to prisoners charged with treason. She was allowed to disembark and enter through the Byward tower, rather than through Traitors Gate and with some irony, was housed in the house in the grounds where she had stayed prior to her coronation rather than in a prison room. Although her downfall can partially be attributed to her failure to produce a male heir, she had also made enemies within the court, most notable Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s principal secretary. It was Cromwell who collected and then presented the evidence of her adultery to the King – 5 men were named in the charges including Anne’s own brother. She was also accused of plotting to assassinate the King. Anne maintained her innocence of all the charges as did all but one of the men charged. On 12th May 4 of them were found guilty and condemned to death. Anne herself was put on trial on the 15th and was found guilty. Her brother was found guilty of the charges against him on the same day and all the men were executed on May 17th. Anne herself was executed on 19th May inside the Tower of London.
Many historians since have argued that Anne and the men condemned were innocent victims of a political plot or maybe just the victims of Cromwell’s malice.