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HENRY VIII: THE EVEN HANDED PERSECUTOR

Some folks out there have recently been trying to justify the long list of people executed by Henry VIII  because ‘at least they had a trial’ or ‘because it was over religion, and there were always beheadings, pressings, burnings over religion.’

Well, surprisingly, I must agree with them on one thing. Henry sure could be fair and evenhanded.

He dealt out his brand of ‘justice’/punishment to both Catholics and Protestants, peasant and nobles, strangers and relatives, men  and women, and young and old alike!

From the Protestant side, the list of victims  include twelve clergymen, 3 monks, 2 lawyers, a courtier, several servants, an apprentice, a leatherseller and a tailor, a player and a musician, a painter and a mercer. Poignantly, there is also listed a poor artificer and a poor labourer, a  wife, a man called Valentine Freese alongside his wife, a child under 15 called Richard Mekins, and an ‘aged father.’ All were burnt at the stake save for the ‘aged father’ who had his brains bashed out prior to the fire taking hold. (I presume this was meant to be merciful.)

From the Catholic side, we have a list of well over 200, mostly priests and monks, but also the Nun of Kent, and some laymen and laywomen, including  67-year-old Margaret Pole, who was charged with nothing but faced death because her son was out of vengeful Henry’s reach.

Of the ‘rich and famous/infamous’ there are approximately 25 executed nobles and some ordinary folk  connected with the  supposed nobles’ misdeeds,  such as  Mark Smeaton, who was tortured into confessing a fling with Anne Boleyn.  The executed include Edward Stafford, son of Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham (who raised rebellion against Richard III) , Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, de la Poles and Poles (including a young boy who was imprisoned in the Tower and was never seen again…he might be there still*!), a Courtenay and a Hungerford (both  of these families had helped Henry’s father to his throne), Jane Boleyn, and of course wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

As we can see,  Henry was a very even handed chap indeed. No one got favouritism. No one got out alive.

* https://murreyandblue.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/whatever-happened-to-henry-pole-the-younger-2011/

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20 thoughts on “HENRY VIII: THE EVEN HANDED PERSECUTOR

  1. Though it isn’t really “funny” at all, you put this together in a straight forward pithy way. With this list of executions in mind can anyone explain to me just WHY it is that some call Richard III a tyrant???

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lady of Winchester on said:

      His brother Edward IV killed and exectuted far more people, but few would dare to call him a tyrant. He’s the Golden Boy, and everything he did was totally right and justified, don’t you know.

      Like

      • hoodedman1 on said:

        Sources? I do not recall any text by any author of any persuasion that has ever accused Edward IV of killing more people than Henry VIII, whose death toll was perhaps as high as 50,000-75,000 of his own subjects. This was was through his own paranoia and persecution, and dwarfs the battle deaths at Towton.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. sighthound6 on said:

    Henry died in his bed.
    Plus he was a ‘strong’ king – a lot of people like that.
    Finally he had wonderful PR. The Tudors in general do. I think in certain circles they are credited with creating ‘modern’ England, and ultimately the mighty British Empire. So killing a few people along the way is seen as neither here nor there. It is a viewpoint – it just isn’t mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady of Winchester on said:

      I would say pretty much the same thing for the House of York, they were good propaghandists too.
      Its just that people have attached some kind of enormous victim complex onto them, because of Richard III. They like to think all of them were ‘vilified’ by the ‘Lancastrians’- who they defeeating and killed. Odd.

      Modern Ricardians have done such a thorough job, that the very term ‘Lancastrian’ is now an insult, and its automatically assumed you are one, if you’re not terribly keen on Edward IV or Saint Dick.

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      • hoodedman1 on said:

        Odd indeed, because I have never heard anyone talk about the House of York being vilified by ‘Lancastrians’ nor do I deem the word some kind of insult and have not heard it used as such.
        Of course, I suspect I am considerably older than you, and remember a time where ‘all things Lancastrian’ were considered marvellous, ie the ‘sainted’ warmonger and war criminal Henry V who ordered the arms of any female camp followers broken if they came too near to his baggage train. Charmer.
        In many older volumes in my library , it was Edward IV who was called tyrant, not just Richard III, and then, rather mysteriously, any similar or worse ‘tyrannies’ were overlookedwhen the Tudor dynasty emerged (which I don’t deem in any wise Lancastrian, since Henry VII’s claim to the throne was so shaky and distant) with many books heaping glowing praise on Henry VIII, despite a catalogue of death and cultural vandalism a mile long. Well, hey, a bit of modern anti-Catholic sentiment can hide a heap of evils, eh?
        I am sure even you can recognise that this list of killings (which is only partial, of necessity) is far great than that of ANY prior king, death tolls in battle notwithstanding (though William I of course did commit genocide in the north, but the death total is unknown.)

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      • Lady of Winchester on said:

        Ah, hoodedman, The popular claim Henry V was a ‘War Criminal’. On what basis do you consider him such? Theres a very useful book called ‘The Laws of War in the Later Middle Ages’ by Maurice Keen.

        Let me paraphrase from pages 120-130 of his book.

        “The more general laws of war, however, also prescribed that a town should be offered a
        chance to surrender before being besieged, and that if these terms were refused and the
        town taken, the victorious ruler or commander was not necessarily required to spare the
        inhabitants. If he chose not to be merciful, the decision could be seen as a legitimate punishment for defying or rebelling against a ruler, effectively an ‘offence against his majesty’”

        In other words, it was not against the rules to kill the enemy, if you took thier town by storm. So by which set of Laws are you judging him- The Geneva Convention?

        Or perhaps you are referring to the killing of prisoners after Agincourt.? Of course, Henry was not the only one. I don’t see anyone killing Joan of Arc a ‘war criminal’ for having her her kill the English garrison at Jargeau after they had, repeatedly, asked to treat with her. Its mentioned by Juliet Barker in her book ‘Conquest’ I don’t recall the exact page, but I can get it.

        As for warmongering, well that can apply to pretty much every Medieval ruler in Europe, including the Sainted Richard Duke of York.

        Just because Ian Mortimer calls Henry a war criminal, it does not make him so. Indeed, if he was, where are the contemporary sources calling him as much? Where are the French sources? I’ve yet to see any.

        Getting rid of ‘female camp followers’, which often denoted Prostitutes, was not uncommon, by the way.

        For somebody who professes to have the wisdom borne of age, methinks you are very easily swayed by the writings of modern revisionists, who make thier business of judging the past by the laws, standards and expectations of the present.

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  3. If only the House of York and it’s subsequent branches really knew anything about propaganda. The fact is that they, Richard in particular, have been the subject of propaganda for five centuries, the falsity of a large part of which was exposed in Leicester. People just do not have withered arms that heal themselves underground. Nor does kyphosis mutate into the totally different scoliosis. These and the arm are conditions that you would observe from a skeleton. I have never come across anyone seeking to canonise Richard III, although he had relatives who, arguably, deserved it.
    There were only two linear Lancastrians alive and in England at the start of 1471 – the younger died in battle, according to most sources, whilst many insane people have a related, natural cause of death – and the main reason is the almost total failure of Henry V and his brothers to reproduce, followed by the almost total failure of Henry VI to reproduce, if he did. There were lineal Lancastrians in Spain, Burgundy and Portugal, including the lady Richard was agreeing a marriage with when he died.
    Of course, the “Tudors”, who were not linear Lancastrians because they were not descended from Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster in suo jure, are generally reckoned to have killed some 100,000 people and Henry VIII 72,000 of them. We didn’t have space to list them all on this post, which was about the way he went about killing people.

    Liked by 3 people

    • hoodedman1 on said:

      Revisionism is sometimes necessary, dear Lady. All of history is full or errors of translation, bias from chroniclers and a big dollop of mythology. The French were horrified by Henry V’s treatment of the prisoners he took; it was expected they would be ransomed as was the custom. Camp followers were prostitutes, yes… and often driven away, but usually not with arms broken by official decree. I actually think Prof Mortimer writes some excellent books, but it seems only certain professors get a ‘gold star’ from you and that they are those who taught you. Critical thinking must come into play; you are meant to learn from your professors, not necessarily to parrot them.

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      • Lady of Winchester on said:

        You make a lot of assumptions, hooded man. I agree that some of Dr Mortimer’s early books are good, but some are not. His book on Henry V is fundamentally flawed because he ignored or dismissed any sources that did not support his ideas. For instance, he cliamed Henry Vs ideas about Just War were exceptional to present him as a fanatic. Yet he ignored what Henry’s contemporary, Christine de Pizan had to say on the matter, which included ‘wars waged in just cause are but the proper execution of justice’, and that if a war was just one could expect divine support. Read her Book of the Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry if you don’t believe me.
        Mortimer also failed to consult his Augustine and Aquinas in his appraisal of just war, a fundamental oversight, as their writings were the main basis for the idea in Medieval Europe.

        So you see, I exercised my critical thinking throughout when I read Mortimer’s book on Henry, and what I saw was this type of dishonesty and misleading scholarship throughout. He even resorts to name calling, calling thed likes of Juliet Barker delusional, and even dismissing or ignorimg the work if the brilliant Christopher Allmand, who appears to have had a far better grasp of Medieval French, and Frencvh sources then him, if Allmands references are anything to go by.

        So yes, revisionim can be a good thing, but it can also be money spinner for unscrupulous perople who only wish to sell books.

        Where ate your sources to prove contemporary Frenchman were horrified, may I ask? And where is your capacity for critical thought that asllows you to spot double standards? Because the example of Joan of Arcs followers killing men who wanted to surrender seems to haverhaver been lost on you. Or does your moral indignation only apply to the House of Lancaster?

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    • Lady of Winchester on said:

      Yes super blue, we know the old sob story. Horrid Henry said bad things about Saint Dick, therefore that we can ignore the lies and calumnies spread by the likes of his brother and father about their foes, because we all know Frenchwoman are immoral, therefore Margaret of Anjou must have slept around.
      Even pro- yorkist historiasns admit to their use of propaganda, such as Matthew Lewis.

      Your other statements are revealing. Because modern medicine and scientific discoveries that 15th century people could never have known about has shown RichasRichasrd did not have certain physical ailments, it also exonerates him of all wrongdoing for his entire lifetyome. He could not have had a witheed arm, therefore nither he nor his family members could ever have displayed fleas common to the human race such as greed, selfish ambition, lust or power or a ruthless determination o keep it at all costs.

      Your remarks about who couild be a ‘true Lancastrian’ are also I interesting. Apparently it could only berber those of the bloodline accepted and endorsed by you and Richard III, ignoing all the other inconvenient relatives like the Hollands, descended from Elizabeth of Lancaster, the sister of Henry IV, and daughter of said Blanche. As well as the descendants of the daughters of the original Duke of Lancaster, Edmund ‘ Crouchback’ who included the mother of John Beaufort, the grandfather of Henry Tudor, and Mary de Bohun, the mother of Henry V. Check the family tree. I assure you, both ladies were descendants of Duke Edmund, unless we are going to do the Ashdown Hill, and proclaim all inconvenient relatives not approved by the Yorkists illegitimate (without testing their DNA of course.)

      That’s ther trouble with Ricardians, when they run out of cherries to pick, they have to cut down the tree to make a fiddle, so the facts dance to their tune.

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      • It is interesting that you mention Dr. Ashdown-Hill, who obviously understands the subject a lot more than you, but his suggestion that Owen Tudor was not Edmund and Jasper’s father follows from G.L. Harriss’ Cardinal Beaufort biography, where the inverted commas around “Tudor” began, before Ashdown-Hill summarised the evidence. The Lancastrian definition can be worked back a little further.

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      • Lady of Winchester on said:

        Yes, I’ve heard that, but the ‘genetic expert’ hill is now in the singular and rather obsessional habit of trying to prove the illegitimacy of anyone remotely connected to the House of Tudor.

        Besides, for supposed ‘professional geneaologist’ he’s very apt to make leaps of faith without the benefit of actual DNA evidence. He latches onto passages in books he likes the sound of, by the looks of it, and uses things like naming patterns, or any disparate shreds of ‘evidence’ he can to back up his far-fetched claims.

        Yet there are two problems with what you suggest. First of all, the paternity of Edmund Tudor does not make a fig of difference. Henry Tudor was descended from Blanche of Artois, the wife of Edmund thought his mother’s father, not through his father or his father’s ancestors.

        Secondly, Edmund and Jasper were not the first and second botn children of Katherine de Valois after Henry VI. She bore a son called Owen two years before Edmund, who died in infancy, and an unnamed daughter one year before. The name not being recorded suggests she was stillborn, or died very shortly after birth.

        So are we going to conclude she was only having an affait with Edmund Beaufort two years after the birth of her second child to make the facts conveniently fit our agenda? Was it selective conception, so that only the third and fourth pregencies were his, but not hte first, second and fifth?

        We are engaging in flights of fancy if we start accepting such ideas. So lets stick to what we do know about bloodlines. I seem to know them at least as well as as Hill, if not better considering he is apparently unaware of the descent of Henry de Grosmont Earl of Lancaster’s sisters. Perhaps its just a case of willful ignorance….

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    • Lady of Winchester on said:

      Im curious about this Portuguese ‘marriage’. Ricardians talk about it as if they were officially betrothed or even married, or some such, but it there had actually been little progress past the negotiations.

      Please don’t say negotiations constituted marriage or legally binding betrothal. There are enough examples of marriage negotiations that fell through or came to nothing to show that was not the case. Even betrothals could be broken off, or not result in marriage as the examples of one on the John Pastons and Edward Bruce demonstrate.

      Like

      • hoodedman1 on said:

        Respectfully… another thread, another time…This post is not relating to the proposed Portuguese marriage.

        Like

  4. Lady of Winchester on said:

    Stupid predictive text input on Kindle fire. The cause of many typos. Including ‘Berber’ instead of ‘be’ in the sentence starting, ‘Apparently it could only…

    Like

  5. hoodedman1 on said:

    Slander about sexual indiscretions was common then, from all parties, as it is today!
    I honestly don’t know anyone who believes Richard was ‘saintly’. It is only his detractors who claim this about others while going into some kind of crazed histrionics themselves.
    Thank goodness some people have dared to question the ‘status quo’ regarding history or we’d still believe the druids built Stonehenge and the Angles and Saxons killed all the Britons, or that Eleanor of Aquitaine murdered Rosamund Clifford with her own fair hands or Eleanor of Castile sucked poison from her husband’s wounds or Edward II was killed by a hot poker in a tender place (now thought to be apocryphal.)
    What ARE the facts? Truth is, we just don’t know for sure… but certainly MANY of the old tropes about Richard III have been disproved in our time.
    Please don’t bother with any more replies on this thread, no more will be published; we are just treading water here and I am saving you time and energy with these very wordy replies, which add nothing more but end up as ‘what York did’ and ‘what Lancaster did’ and ‘what Ricardians do’. Yawn. Tiresome.

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  6. sighthound6 on said:

    All sides used propaganda in their day. And rumour when convenient. For example the rumour that John of Gaunt was illegitimate, which was still alive early in his son’s reign. There was a rumour (quite widely believed) that Richard II was still alive after 1400, an extreme version claiming him to be still walking about in 1417.

    The difference is the Tudor Propaganda of This Wonderful House That Made England GREAT! is still very much alive and widely believed to this day. The facts that Henry VIII committed cultural vandalism on an industrial scale, that (despite having more money to play with than any previous English sovereign bar none) he ended up debasing the currency and reducing the poor to abject poverty, that he finished off his reign by fighting an utterly pointless war with France that achieved nothing is *completely* overlooked. Somehow he is presented to us as a Great King!

    (That’s without even mentioning the number of people he killed; many of whom died simply for believing something that Henry himself had believed at one time or another.)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Recusant on said:

    Henry VIII is the first king who sanctioned the torture and execution of women. I have had an initial look to see what instances there were before his reign, and I haven’t come up with anything, may just mean I don’t have enough information. Catholic England was not very keen on burning witches, preferring imprisonment. I’m sure better historians than I will come up with examples. In addition, I for one cannot see anywhere that Richard III had women tortured or executed. Wasn’t it Anne Boleyn’s maid. innocent any wrongdoing, of who died on the rack?

    Like

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