May 19, 1536: Anne Boleyn is executed.
Between late April and early May, several men - a musician, a courtier, and several other noblemen - were arrested and subsequently accused of committing adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. Perhaps the worst accusation of all was of Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, who was accused of incest with his sister.
On May 6, she wrote a letter to the King in which she pleaded for the accused men’s lives:
My last and only request shall be, that myself may only bear the burden of your Grace’s displeasure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen, who (as I understand) are likewise in strait imprisonment for my sake. If ever I found favour in your sight, if ever the name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing in your ears, then let me obtain this request…
Her letter was written to no avail; after a short trial, George Boleyn and at least three other men were executed, two days before Anne herself. Shortly before her execution, Anne made a speech that (supposedly) extolled Henry as ”a good, a gentle and sovereign lord” and ended with the words “O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul”.