On this day in Tudor history, 17th May 1536, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford; Sir Henry Norris, groom of the stool; courtier Sir Francis Weston; courtier William Brereton, and musician Mark Smeaton were beheaded on Tower Hill for treason.
The five men had all been condemned to death after being found guilty of sleeping with Queen Anne Boleyn and conspiring with her to kill her husband, King Henry VIII.
Poet Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, who'd also been arrested and imprisoned in May 1536 in Anne's fall, witnessed their executions from his prison in the Bell Tower.
The bell tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.
By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.
(extract from his poem V. Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me inimici mei
You can find out more about that awful day in this video:
Also on this day in Tudor history...
Image: My photo of the Tower Hill memorial, the spot where these men were executed.
Robert Hutchinson likened their journey through the ‘justice’ system to a Stalinist show trial. He wasn’t wrong.
That’s a good comparison.