After Henry had taken his abrupt leave from the May Day jousting tournament the day before, Anne had settled in for the night at Greenwich. Her husband instead went to Whitehall - furious as a result of Mark Smeaton's confession of adultery with his wife, and the subsequent questioning and arrest of Sir Henry Norris. Both Smeaton and Norris had already been taken to the Tower of London, which Anne would have been unaware of. The king was determined to make himself scarce, so as not to allow Anne the opportunity to beg for his mercy and forgiveness once she was made known of the charges against her. He ordered for her arrest on 2 May.
Oblivious, Anne was enjoying a tennis match at Greenwich until a messenger came to inform her that she was to appear in front of the Privy Council at the king's pleasure. Based on the events that had led up to this, as well as Henry's sudden departure from the joust, Anne must have been concerned about the meaning behind this sudden meaning, but she went with them and stood before her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, as well as Sir William Fitzwilliam and Sir William Paulet. There, she was informed that she was to be charged with adultery against the king with at least three different men, and that Smeaton had already confessed. Although Anne attempted to speak on her own behalf and deny the accusations, her words had no effect and her arrest was nevertheless ordered. She was taken back to her (now-guarded) apartments to wait until the tide was right on the River Thames, and at two o'clock in the afternoon she was escorted by barge to the Tower of London. She had been given no opportunity to pack her clothes and belongings, and was sent with only a few of her maids to attend her.
When I read The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir, all about Anne's downfall and execution, I was surprised to read this, and Weir asks the question - Why would Anne say that her lodgings were too good for her, if she was innocent of the charges against her? I admit it is peculiar that she said such a thing, but I do not in any way believe it was a confession of guilt. I think she was just so shocked at everything that was happening to her, and this was one of many hysterical outbursts she would have during her time in the Tower - many of which would start as tears and end in laughter, as Kingston reported.
Also on this day, and before Anne's arrest, her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford was arrested at Whitehall Palace under suspicion of having carnal knowledge of his sister the Queen. He had been brought to the Tower roughly three hours before Anne, after some of Anne's maids had reported seeing George hugging and kissing Anne in her apartments. This "hugging and kissing" was almost certainly brotherly affection and nothing else. It is well-known that during Anne's Queenship, she and her brother were extremely close, and the best of friends. He frequently visited her rooms to talk with her, and certainly during the most troubling times of her marriage she would ask to see him.
At this point, she had been told that Mark Smeaton and Henry Norris had been taken to the Tower already, but there is some debate about whether or not William Kingston informed her that her brother had been arrested, too. It is somewhat likely that he withheld this information in an act of kindness to her, at least for the time being. Over the next few days, Kingston would report Anne's behavior and comments to Thomas Cromwell, and they would include frequent and drastic changes in emotions - swinging from intense sadness to almost maniacal laughter. One can only imagine the psychological toll this was taking on Anne, knowing that she would likely never see her daughter again, and would probably not leave the Tower alive.
Anne would live for only seventeen more days, and from this day on, she would never again see her husband, Henry VIII.
- Grueninger, Natalie and Morris, Sarah, In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn (Gloucestershire, 2013)
- Weir, Alison, The Lady in the Tower (New York, 2009)