On this day in history, on 17 May 1536, at the young age of 32, George Boleyn was executed for high treason. George was the brother of the queen consort, Anne Boleyn. This also means that he was the brother in law of King Henry VIII and the uncle of Queen Elizabeth I. He and four other men were executed by beheading on Tower Hill, a spot just northwest of the Tower of London.
Queen consort Anne Boleyn was unable to provide King Henry VIII with a male heir, and in 1536, Henry conceived a plot to dispose of her. This would, in turn, pave the way for Henry to marry Jane Seymour just a few days after the execution of Anne. The latter took place on 19 May 1536. He had Anne accused of adultery with multiple men, including her brother, George Boleyn. George was charged with having an incestuous relationship with his sister and plotting to kill Henry, with the assistance of Anne. The day after George was expecting to be named a member of the Order of the Garter, the King ordered his chief advisor, Thomas Cromwell to investigate George for treason.
Both George and Anne were arrested on 2 May 1536. The other four men (Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton) accused of adultery with Anne were tried on 12 May 1536. However, Anne and George were not put on trial until the 15 of May. Considering that Norris, Weston, Bremerton, and Smeaton had all been convicted, Anne’s fate was decided before her trial even began. Once she was found guilty, George stood trial. He was pre-judged, too, based on the previous conviction of his sister. If she were convicted of incest with him, he would have to be condemned, as well. Nonetheless, George put up a valiant effort for his defence, so much so that many in the courtroom believed he might be acquitted, but that was not to be. He was unanimously convicted and sentenced to death. On the morning of the 17 May, George gave a long speech where he defended his faith and asked forgiveness from those he hurt and from God. He was then beheaded first before the other four men suffered the same fate.