Alice’s Restaurant

May 22, 2007

The Tudors: The End of Anne Boleyn

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — Tags: , — aliceaudrey @ 11:26 pm

Boy, when the end comes, it really comes fast.  Poor Anne. 

We continue with Mr. Al’s History of Henry the VIII’s Wives.

 It could be proved that Anne and her lover(s) plotted the Kings murder while rumpling the royal linens. That was it! It was Cromwell who came up with that idea. Henry made sure there was a little extra something in his pay packet that week. In the end, five men were accused of having slept with Anne and taken part in the plot to murder Henry. One of the men was Anne’s brother, Lord Rochford. Interestingly, many people at court found it more shocking that Anne was accused of having sex with a musician, Mark Smeaton, than her own brother.

Smeaton was a no-account, lute strumming, wine swilling, backstairs lothario! A court hanger-on from a family of, of…commoners! And the Queen slept with…that? (Shudder). At least her brother was a Peer. Breeding tells.  Cromwell thought the additional charge of incest would add a nice, reprehensible touch. He wasn’t taking any chances that Anne might come up with a crowd of sympathizers who might make trouble. He needn’t have worried.

 Things moved fast. Parliament was dissolved on April 14, to prevent Anne from appealing to that august body. On April 24 the Lord Chancellor appointed a commission of oyer and terminer to address the charges of treason. On the 29th the Privy Council was informed of the proceedings against the Queen. That same day Cromwell laid all the “evidence” before the King. Henry was duly aghast that his beloved Anne was having it off with all those fellows. Her brother also? Yuck! And they wanted to kill me? Forsooth!

Anne knew nothing of the details of what was about to happen. She knew something was up, that it involved her, but not even in her worse nightmares did she suspect that Henry wanted her whacked. Literally. On the 30th, the first of Anne’s “lovers” was arrested, the musician Smeaton.  He was taken to the Tower and through the use of kind words, yummy snacks and cocktails, confessed to everything he was accused of.

On the morning of May 2nd, Anne was ordered to appear before the Privy Council. Once there, the Council, which included her uncle, accused her of adultery. Two of the men she had allegedly slept with were named. She was told they had confessed all. The poor woman was too stunned to reply. The council ordered her, by His Majesties Command, to return to her apartments, under guard, and there await further developments. They didn’t keep her waiting long.

 Back in her rooms, Anne discussed what was happening with some of her ladies. She was, to put it mildly, deeply upset. The fact that Henry wanted a divorce didn’t really surprise her. She had suspected as much for some time. But, My God! The men he accused of sleeping with her were going to die! She hadn’t heard about her brother yet. His arrest had been handled very quietly.
Early that afternoon the Council called on Anne to deliver the warrant for her arrest. It was then that she learned she was to be charged with plotting Henry’s murder. NOW she understood. Henry wanted her dead. Not just dead, but dead in such a way that Elizabeth would be removed from the line of succession. There was nothing she could do. Henry, in a typical Henryesque fashion, ordered Anne to be taken to the Tower immediately. That is, in broad daylight. In full view of the good citizens of London. That was not the usual way. When it came to vindictive, Anne couldn’t teach Henry a thing.

By the time Anne’s weeping, hysterical self passed through the Court Gate, not Traitor’s Gate, as some sources hold, it was all over except for the execution. Judgment had already been, unofficially, rendered. In fact, so anxious was Cromwell that the proceedings be viewed as unbiased, that he had a couple of chaps at court rounded up in a way that would cause comment. After “careful scrutiny” of the evidence, they were released. One fellow was let off with a warning about shagging the Queen of England and the price one could pay; the other fellow was told that, although he was innocent, the King didn’t much care for him. He was advised to leave the court and never return. That was the last anyone saw of him.

On May 19th 1536, Anne’s head hit the straw. Henry had a professional executioner brought in from France. No doubt to give the proceedings a classy, continental touch. Anne always had appreciated the French way of doing things. It took less that two months to have Anne judicially murdered. What a refreshing contrast to the Katherine business. The others were executed the same way, even Smeaton. As a commoner, he wasn’t entitled to such a quick death when the charge was treason. Henry must have been in a good mood that day.

[ Icky paragraph about the usual methods removed to comments.]

 Is it any wonder executions were so popular with the public? Londoners didn’t get to see stuff like that every day! And now it was Jane’s turn. Um… to become queen, not to be executed. It’s hard to keep these things straight when you are talking about Henry’s wives.


Anne may have been one of the more notable wives in Henry’s life, but hardly the last.  Next Tuesday we continue with Henry’s marital woes.  I’m assuming he’s going to do Jane next, but haven’t seen anything yet.



  1. Yuck Mr. Al! You surprised me. I was having my breakfast when I got to the eviscerated part. I wasn’t expecting that in there, after all “generous” Henry did hire the best of the best (the hangman of Calais) to execute Anne as cleanly as possible. Only one stroke of the sword. Lucky Anne.
    Gulp, I’m not so hungry anymore. Tks! 🙂

    Comment by Anastasia — May 23, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  2. Sorry Anastasia. I should have removed the offensive paragraph to begin with. I have a really high ick tolerance, and hardly noticed.

    For the ghouls among us – me included – this is what Mr. Al had in the deleted section:

    The usual way of executing titleless traitors was to hang them until they lost consciousness, cut ’em down, revive them with vinegar, cut off their genitalia, rub it in their face, then chuck it into the bonfire. Then… eviscerate them. This had to be done quickly, so the victim could see his guts being yanked out of his body before he lost consciousness. The guts were tossed into the fire, the body was beheaded (finally) and quartered, and par-boiled then put on public display until it disintegrated. The head was stuck on a pike and displayed on London Bridge.

    At least putting it this way gives you some warning.


    Comment by aliceaudrey — May 23, 2007 @ 8:01 am

  3. Poor Anne. . . she may have been a manipulative b**** but she certainly didn’t deserve that. And all for the love of Janey. . . can’t wait for the next installment!

    Comment by Ericka Scott — May 23, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  4. I really wasn’t complaining, no harm done. Just breakfast in the sink. LOL. It wasn’t offensive just surprised me, that’s all. Normally it wouldn’t have bothered me. It was just the timing. My cereal suddenly look like what he was describing. 😉

    Comment by Anastasia — May 23, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  5. Ick indeed. The Smeaton guy sounds like a fascinating character for a historical novel.

    Farewell, Anne!

    Comment by TessaD — May 23, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  6. Mr. Al, keep up the history lessons, ick and all.

    Comment by sashacat — May 23, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  7. Hi:
    Anastasia? I am SO sorry about that! I had no idea it would affect people so much. And this was a “Must See” event in the lives of Londoners. One thing I should point out, although a number of people were tortured in the course of Henry’s hunt for the bed partners of his various wives, by this time,a confession obtained by torture was not admissable as evidence. Henry bent the rules a lot. As we’ll see with Katherine Howard, he broke the law to obtain an extra-judicial execution. Henry could be a nice guy, but when he wasn’t nice. people died. Thank you again for your comments. Now that I have discribed how traitors died, I won’t do it again. You will know what I’m talking about when I say someone died a “traitors death”.
    I suppose no one wants me to describe Katherine of Aragon’s autopsy. Henry had it performed by a local butcher with a member of the Privy Council present to make a report.

    Comment by Mr Al — May 23, 2007 @ 4:49 pm

  8. It really makes you wonder what kind of person thinks of the most horrible way to execute someone! I don’t get it though. After breaking with the Catholic church and setting up his own “yes” church, why not just get a divorce? And, Mary and Elizabeth did re-enter the line of succession, so it was all for naught?

    Interesting as usual, Mr. Al!


    Comment by Laurie — May 25, 2007 @ 6:15 pm

  9. It’s never too late to leave a comment here. Never.

    Comment by aliceaudrey — June 3, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

  10. Great site!! Mr. Al, loved your rendition of Ann’s downfall and death. I had yet to hear it so eloquently told!


    Comment by Heather — October 28, 2008 @ 8:12 am

  11. Tahnk you Heather. It’s always a pleasure to aquire a new reader. Please feel free to go over as many as you wish. I originally did this for the sake of entertaining some of the members of our writers group. I hadn’t intended to do more than a couple. The next thing I knew, people were asking for more. Wheeeeee!!! It’s nice to be wanted.

    Comment by Mr Al — October 28, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

  12. Hey, Heather, did you read the rest of Mr. Al’s Tudor Follies? If you click on the categories thing in my side bar you can pull up all the posts he did on each of Henry’s wives. Sorry, it’s in reverse order right now.

    Today one of Mr. Al’s posts about George IV went up. You might want to click on the tiny “Alice Audrey” in the top right corner to get to my current posts to check it out.

    Comment by aliceaudrey — October 29, 2008 @ 8:14 am

  13. Actually, I spent some of yesterday and today reading through the rest of posts about Henry’s wives. Great stuff!! I’ve been kind of fascinated with Henry’s wives for the past few months, and this is probably the best way to learn about it, with humor and wit. I’m glad you decided to turn it into a series.

    To tell you the truth, I have no idea who George IV is, but I plan on finding out! Thanks!

    Comment by Heather — October 29, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

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