The Execution of Anne Boleyn
Tasked by the king with getting Anne out of the way, Cromwell came up with adultery. Five men, including Anne’s brother George Boleyn, were accused of having affairs with the queen. Anne, George and the others were tried and convicted of treason, and sentenced to death.
However, that wasn’t the grounds for annulment: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who previously had to rationalize why Henry’s marriage to Catherine was void and his union with Anne was the real deal, thinly accepted the notion that the king’s previous affair with Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn, meant the marriage to Anne was never legal.
Anne (her exact age unknown, but roughly 35) was executed at the Tower Green on May 19, 1536. Her daughter, Elizabeth, was 2 1/2 years old—and like her half-sister Mary, the child was also now illegitimate.
Henry went ahead and wed his mistress Jane Seymour on May 30. She got pregnant right away but died on Oct. 24, 1537, 12 days after giving birth to a son, Prince Edward. (Cranmer, also later executed, was one of the future king’s godfathers. His half-sister Elizabeth, 4, carried the baptismal oil at the christening.)