19 May 1554 – Elizabeth Released from the Tower of London

On this day in history, 19th May 1554, the 18th anniversary of her mother Anne Boleyn’s execution at the Tower of London, Elizabeth was released from her prison in the Tower of London and placed under house arrest. She had been a prisoner there since 18th March 1554, Palm Sunday, after her half-sister, Queen Mary I, ordered her arrest for her alleged involvement in Wyatt’s Rebellion.

Nobody knows what was going through Elizabeth’s mind as she left the Tower on the anniversary of her mother’s execution, but being released from the Tower was not a relief for the young woman as she feared that she was going to be assassinated on her way to Woodstock, where she was going to be placed under house arrest.

You can read more about Elizabeth’s imprisonment in the Tower and her time at Woodstock in my article “The Imprisonment of Elizabeth”.

You can find out all about Anne Boleyn’s execution and the events leading up to it over at The Anne Boleyn Files (there is a countdown each May) and also “The Events of May 1536” page.

6 thoughts on “19 May 1554 – Elizabeth Released from the Tower of London

  1. I wonder if this was a deliberate ploy on the part of Queen Mary. A little bit of psychological intimidation as she would have beenwell aware of the significance of the date. Sending Elizabeth a message that although you are free, you could have ended the same way as your mother.

  2. What odd timing! Interesting, also, that Elizabeth feared her sister Mary would do to her something similar to what Elizabeth herself wanted to have done to her cousin Mary (i.e., a private murder). Considering the nature of Tudor trials, I’m not sure that the hearing given to cousin Mary should make that much of a difference, but the evidence does indicate cousin Mary was involved in plots, whereas there is no such proof about Elizabeth.

  3. I have just finished reading Robert Parry’s novel. “The Virgin and the Crab,” and the part where Elizabeth is in the Tower was such a horrible experience for her. She definitely had a lot of courage and strength to survive such an ordeal.

  4. Welcome home, Claire! THe tour sounds wonderful! I am aiming for next year 🙂
    I do think it is very meaningful that Mary released Elizabeth on May 19. The message could not be clearer–you better straighten up or else! I do think Mary tried to love Elizabeth, especially when she was young and her mother dead. But it was just too much for her–she could not love the child of the Great Whore. Very sad for them both.

  5. I agree what strange timing, coincidence or not, I dont think we will ever know.
    It is also very sad that Mary could not love Elizabeth due to who her Mother was.

  6. I’ve heard she was housed in the same rooms in the tower as her mother. Does anyone know if there is any truth to this?

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