May 15, 1536: Anne Boleyn is found guilty of treason.
Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife after Catharine of Aragon and the wife for whom the king broke away from the Catholic Church, was arrested in May of 1536 and charged with adultery, incest, and treason. Her arrest took place only three years after her marriage to Henry, which had so far produced no male heirs and only one healthy child; the king had meanwhile taken Jane Seymour, who was to become his third wife just weeks after Anne Boleyn’s execution, as a mistress. Anne was, according to contemporary accounts, intelligent, witty, and anything but submissive. all traits that Henry found desirable, even exciting, in a mistress, but not in a wife; her confrontational nature combined with her failure to bear male heirs healthy enough to survive past infancy caused their marriage to crumble.
Anne Boleyn’s arrest was based on accusations of her illicit sexual relationships with a court musician, several aristocrats, and Anne’s own brother George; she was charged with both adultery (a form of treason when committed by a queen) and plotting the death of the king (another form of treason). Of her accused lovers, five were found guilty of treason, including George Boleyn, and executed by decapitation on May 17, 1536. Anne was held in the Tower of London and remained there until her own execution on May 19, 1536; her final words were reportedly a prayer:
To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul.
Anne Boleyn was survived by one child, who was the only one of her siblings to survive birth and infancy, who was declared illegitimate and deprived of her birthright not long after her mother’s execution in order to clear the way for her father’s male heirs, and who eventually became one of England’s most famous, most influential monarchs.
April 23, 1775: J.M.W. Turner is born.
[Turner] became known as ‘the painter of light’, because of his increasing interest in brilliant colours as the main constituent in his landscapes and seascapes.
April 16, 1889: Charlie Chaplin is born.
A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.
Tintern Abbey, the transept (1795) - J.M.W. Turner
March 18, 1893: Wilfred Owen is born.
Wilfred Owen was a British poet who wrote primarily during (and on) World War I. In 1915, he enlisted in the British Army and left for the Western Front in early 1917, only to come face-to-face with the horrors of war and senseless slaughter that would become subjects for his most famous poems, including Dulce et Decorum est, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and Parable of the Old Man and the Young; these were poems that condemned the war and condemned the romanticized notions of war that misled so many of his generation to their deaths. A few months into his service, Owen was diagnosed with shell-shock after a shell exploded near him, and he was sent to a war hospital in Edinburgh, where he met another English war poet - Siegfried Sassoon. The two struck up a friendship that was ultimately very creatively beneficial for Owen; Sassoon both inspired Owen as a poet and helped publicize his works, which were unknown at the time of his early death.
Owen’s short but important output of war poetry was primarily written within a span of a year and a few months; in August of 1918, he returned to the Western Front. He was killed in action in France on November 4, 1918, one week before the signing of the Armistice that ended military hostilities all across Europe.
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.