On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII of England, was beheaded on Tower Green, part of the Tower of London. Boleyn had been arrested and accused of treason less than three weeks earlier. 
 
Anne Boleyn was Henry’s second wife. Henry’s desire to divorce his first wife (Catherine of Aragon) and marry Anne Boleyn was one of the reasons he and his supporters sought a break with the Catholic Church—the English Reformation. The English Reformation not only allowed Henry and Anne to wed—Henry formed a new Christian church (the Church of England) with himself at the head—but halted English taxes to the Catholic Church. After the English Reformation, English churches were governed by the king and local authorities, not by the Pope in Rome. The English Reformation was a controversial process, and many Catholics blamed Anne Boleyn for the radical break with Rome.
 
Most historians agree that Anne Boleyn was innocent of the charges against her. Despite all the trouble he went to in order to marry her, Henry was just no longer happy in the marriage. Henry wanted a son, but he and Anne only had a daughter, Elizabeth—who later went on to have a decent political career as Queen Elizabeth I. Henry also wanted another wife—Anne’s maid-of-honor, Jane Seymour. Henry married Jane the day after Anne’s execution, had a son (Edward VI). He then went on to marry five more times. The fates of Henry VIII’s wives are easy to remember using a rhyme: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.
accuse
Verb

to blame or charge with a fault or crime.

arrest
Verb

to take into legal custody.

Catholic
Adjective

having to do with the Christian denomination with the Pope as its leader.

controversial
Noun

questionable or leading to argument.

divorce
Noun

legal end to a marriage.

fate
Noun

predetermined course of events in the life of a person.

govern
Verb

to make public-policy decisions for a group or individuals.

halt
Verb

to stop.

maid-of-honor
Noun

young attendant to a queen, ranking below a lady in waiting.

pope
Noun

leader of the Catholic Church.

Reformation
Noun

(16th century) religious movement to reform the Catholic Church and resulting in the formation of Protestant churches.

tax
Noun

money or goods citizens provide to government in return for public services such as military protection.

treason
Noun

crime of planning to overthrow the government.