A dramatic change
Something happened to the British kingdoms just half a century after Bosworth. From 1536, the second “Tudor” (and his like-minded nephew James V) began to execute women for political offences, a practice unknown hitherto. There had been exceptions such as the St. Brice’s Day Massacre in 1002, although Ethelred had neither judged nor attainted his Viking population as individuals. Margery Jourdemayne had been burned in 1441 because her practice of witchcraft had encompassed treason against Henry VI, potentially in favour of his uncle.
1536 saw Anne Boleyn beheaded. In 1537 Lady Bulmer (Pilgrimage of Grace) and Lady Glamis* were both executed. Margaret, the aged Countess of Salisbury, went to the block in 1541, followed by Katherine Howard and Lady Rochford the following year. Lady Jane Grey (1554), Mary Stuart (1587), Lady Warriston* (1600, husband murder) and Lady Alice Lisle (1685, Sedgemoor) complete the set. There is a definite pattern emerging here in that there was a sudden outbreak, reflecting that the “Tudor” mindset was much less chivalric than that of their predecessors. Evidence for this is that “King Lear”, written in late Elizabethan or early Jacobean years, which included the eventual execution of Cordelia.
* Scottish cases