Today In History – May 19

Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, was executed by beheading on May 19, 1536, just two and a half years after she became queen. Her fate was ultimately decided by the whims of her husband, who was desperate for a male heir and had grown disillusioned with Anne.

Anne was accused of adultery with several men, including her own brother. These charges were most likely fabricated, as no evidence supported them. However, they were enough to convince Henry that Anne had betrayed him and his kingdom, and he ordered her to be tried and executed.

On the day of her execution, Anne was brought to the Tower of London, where she had been imprisoned for the previous two weeks. She was dressed in a simple gown of grey damask and wore a white cap on her head. She was calm and composed, as she had been throughout her trial and imprisonment.

Anne had requested that a skilled headsman be brought from France to carry out her execution, ensuring that it would be quick and painless. As she approached the scaffold, she made a short speech, proclaiming her innocence and asking for forgiveness from God and the King.

The executioner then carried out the court’s sentence, and Anne’s head was severed from her body with a single stroke. Her body was then hastily buried in an unmarked grave within the Tower grounds, and her reign as Queen of England came to a bloody end.

Anne Boleyn’s execution remains a controversial and tragic moment in English history. While many believe she was falsely accused and undeserving of such a gruesome fate, others argue that her ambition and actions brought about her own downfall.

Whatever the truth may be, Anne’s story has captivated audiences for centuries, inspiring countless books, films, and works of art. As a result, her legacy as a powerful and complex figure in English history is secure, even as her ultimate fate remains a subject of debate and speculation.

Anne Boleyn’s final words to the public are believed to be as follows:

“Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.”

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