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Today’s new special stamps …

Sir Brian Tuke by Hans Holbein

Sir Brian Tuke by Hans Holbein

… are about the history of the Royal Mail and it’s predecessors:

As you can see, they feature Sir Brian Tuke, who Henry VIII made Master of the King’s Posts in 1512. He occupied other positions, including clerk of the council of Calais, Treasurer of the Household and secretary to Cardinal Wolsey:

One of his principal duties must have been organising the deliveries of the 72,000 death warrants Henry VIII mandated.


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5 thoughts on “Today’s new special stamps …

  1. and Holbein too


  2. 72,000 death warrants !!!!? where’s the evidence for that ? I have no liking for any Tudor, esp. him, but even I gasp at this stat. !


    • Alan White on said:

      The 72,000 figure appears slightly less shocking when averaged over the almost 38 years of Henry VIII’s reign (1509-1547), giving a yearly average of 1,895. If spread evenly across the City of London and England’s 39 counties (including the Welsh border county of Monmouth), it gives an average of about 47 execution per county per year, or less than 1 per week per county. The death sentences awarded at local assizes would have been handed down by judges, not through signed warrants from the king.

      But the total of 72,000 executions is not based on real archival evidence. It was published by William Harrison in his Description of England (1577), incorporated in Holinshed’s Chronicle, and Harrison was citing a figure given out by the French bishop of Lisieux (Lexovia), quoted in an horoscope of Edward VI by the astrologer Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576). Harrison specifically refers to the executions of ordinary criminals, “rogues and vagabonds”, not Catholic dissenters or rebels.

      The bishop of Lisieux, Jacques d’Annebaut (died 1557), was created a cardinal in 1544. His brother Claude (1495-1552) was Marshal and Admiral of France, and led the French expedition against the Isle of Wight in 1545 that led to the sinking of the Mary Rose.


  3. Rose de Boyer on said:

    One of those poor unfortunates was Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury executed 27 May 1541, rather brutally by Henry VIII in the course of his religious and marital upheavals. Three and a half centuries later she was beatified as a Catholic martyr (Blessed Margaret Pole) by Pope Leo XIII on 29.12.1886. Her feast day is 28 May.


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