Anne Boleyn Executed

February 16, 2012 by staff 

Anne Boleyn Executed, Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England, was executed by a French Swordsman at the Tower of London on 19th May 1536, just 16 months after becoming Henry VIII’s second wife.

So, how did this 35 year old, spirited young woman fall so dramatically from favour? After all, she was the woman who held Henry’s interests the longest, having caught his eye in the early to mid 1520s. Henry VIII had been so besotted with her that he waited for 7 years for her and bombarded her with letters when she was removed from court, 18 of which remain today, and yet this was a man who hated writing his own letters! How can such a love and passion turn into a dark hatred which resulted in Henry ordering Anne to be executed?

Why was Anne Executed?
If you google “Why was Anne Boleyn executed?” or ask people, you’ll get all kinds of answers:-

She committed treason, adultery and incest
She was a witch
She had three breasts and an extra finger on one hand
Henry had fallen in love with Jane Seymour and wanted rid of Anne
There was a conspiracy – Thomas Cromwell wanted to get rid of her
Henry needed a son and she had only given him a daughter and had miscarried twice
She had hinted at Henry VIII’s impotency
Her sharp tongue had made her many enemies who trumped up the charges
She slept with 5 men, including her own brother!
She was wrecking Cromwell’s plans for foreign policy
But what’s the truth?

Cromwell the Conspirator
One argument put forward by Joanna Denny (Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen) is that Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Secretary of State, needed Anne out of the picture.

Cromwell had previously supported Anne Boleyn, sharing her Reformist views, but had argued with Anne over the dissolution of the monasteries (Anne didn’t agree with this) and felt threatened by her growing power and influence over the King. Anne seemed to be wrecking all of Cromwell’s plans and policies including an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor, and Cromwell realised that it was either her or him and started to plan Anne’s undoing.

We know that Cromwell did indeed plot against the Queen from things he wrote to Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador. Cromwell and Chapuys worked together to bring down Anne and the Boleyn family and to replace her with meek Jane Seymour, who was no threat to them and an imperial alliance.

But, where was Henry in all of this?

Henry was aware of the plotting, and we can assume that his love for Anne was destroyed by Cromwell planting doubts in his mind. Hadn’t he sacrificed so much to marry Anne – the love of his people, his marriage to Catherine, his relationship with Rome? Yet she had failed in her duty as Queen.

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