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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/

CatherineExecution

Those misunderstood “Tudors”?

According to Holinshed, the cuddly Henry VIII ordered the executions of some 72,000 people. Adding in the effects of his father’s reign and those of his children might well take the total to about 100,000 although that may exaggerate their rate somewhat. What a good thing this wasn’t a recognised separate dynasty until Hume’s time, a century and a half later.

Still our friends in Cairo, who must have flowed into the Mediterranean by know, have been known to make excuses for this, when they are not sharing homophobic cartoons about prominent historians. Perhaps the Countess of Salisbury, More, Cromwell and others died trying to cut down trees? Were Lady Bulmer (nee’ Margaret Stafford), Tyndale, Anne Askew et al all misheard by waiters when they ordered well-done steaks? Did Anne Boleyn die asking for the sharpness of the Calais sword to be demonstrated, only for the swordsman to lose his balance? Was one of Henry’s cooks so short-sighted that he confused the poisoner Richard Rice (Roose) with a bag of rice? Was “bungee-jumping” invented at this time before it was realised that ropes should go around the wrists and not the neck?

What excuse do they make for all the other “Tudor” victims?

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