Concise Biography of Anne Boleyn
Nationality - English
Lifespan - 1507- 1536
Family - Husband King Henry VIII, Father Sir Thomas Boleyn, her daughter became Queen Elizabeth I
Education - Tutored at home
Career - Courtier and Queen of England until death by execution on Friday, May 19, 1536
Facts About Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn was the second of the six wives of Henry VIII of England and also the mother of
Queen Elizabeth I. Anne is tragically remembered for her untimely death when she was executed for Treason. The charges laid against her included adultery and incest with her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. Those accused of adultery with Anne Boleyn were Mark Smeaton, a court musician. At her trial Mark Smeaton was the only man to speak against her and this was following brutal torture. He later rescinded his confession and was executed by being hung, drawn and quartered, one of the most terrible of all punishments. The other men accused with Anne were members of King Henry VIII's court - William Brereton, Henry Norris and Francis Bryan. These courtiers ahd been life-long friends of the King. The men were found guilty and also executed - but by the means of the axe which was traditionally used for high ranking noblemen. Thomas Wyatt was also accused but was saved by the intervention of his wealthy family. Anne fell from favour primarily due to her inability to produce a male heir. She had given birth to Elizabeth and then gave birth to a still born son. Anne Boleyn had a volatile nature and King Henry, who had once been passionately in love with her, soon tired and became infatuated by the placid Jane Seymour. Anne Boleyn defended herself well but the outcome of the trial was an inevitable. The peers of the realm found her guilty and she was sentenced to death by burning or beheading according to the King's wishes. Anne was terrified of death by burning and therefore agreed to admit that her marriage was not legal to ensure the more clement form of execution by beheading.
The Execution of Anne Boleyn - FRIDAY, MAY 19, 1536
Death by the axe was a terrifying prospect. The executioners often took several blows before the head was finally severed. Anne was therefore granted some clemency and a swordsman was called from France to undertake the execution. This expert swordsman was able to sever the head of Anne Boleyn with one blow. The execution was a public one and conducted at the Tower of London. Following execution the severed head was held up by the hair by the executioner, not as many people think to show the crowd the head, but in fact to show the head the crowd and it's own body!
Consciousness remains for at least eight seconds after beheading until lack of oxygen causes unconsciousness and eventually death. Anne wanted to go to her death with some dignity and showed her sense of humour when she talked of her execution and referred to the the comforting fact that she "only had a little neck." An ironic twist to this tragic story is that her cousin, Catherine Howard, became the fifth wife of Henry VIII and was also executed following charges of adultery and treason and suffered the same fate of being beheaded. Many would call this 'Murder Most Royal' as in the title of the book by the author Jean Plaidy.