New evidence shows Henry VIII meticulously planned Anne Boleyn's beheading

Originally published at:

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Oooh, this is going to confuse a certain number of folks…

They’d love to celebrate him as a hero of the Mens’ Rights Activitist movement, but he is technically a monarch of the English Oppressors that their ancestors fought to free themselves from.

How conflicted they must feel! (Hopefully that can find a way to blame a woman for it. That usually makes them feel better.)





So, this was an animated gif, not a jpeg? @orenwolf? Any idea what’s happening with that?


Borman argues that, despite the coldness of the instructions, the fact Henry spared Boleyn from being burned – a slow, agonising death – was a real kindness by the standards of the day. A beheading with an axe could also involve several blows, and Henry had specified that Boleyn’s head should be “cut off’, which meant by sword, a more reliable form of execution, but not used in England, which is why he had Cromwell send to Calais for a swordsman.


I don’t get it.

A jury of her peers, presided over by her uncle, unanimously found her guilty of treason and incest, and sentenced her to death. The manner of execution, immolation or decapitation, was stipulated in the judgement as being the choice of the King. This is a contemporaneous written record of the King’s decision as per the judgement. Why does this make Henry VIII bad?


If her sentence included that the method of execution should be determined by the King, why would it be surprising that the King determined the method of execution?


Note that at the time, burning at the stake was the legal punishment for women convicted not only of high treason (among other things, adultery by or with the king’s consort or plotting to kill the king) but also of petty treason (a wife killing her husband, or a servant killing her master). Hence the various references to women/servants being burned in murder ballads like Long Lankin.

The punishment for a man convicted of high treason was hanging, drawing and quartering, but the five men convicted of adultery with Anne Boleyn (including her brother!) also had their sentences commuted to beheading.


Somebody better get word to Paul Revere and the Raiders, they may want to rethink a few things. (holy crap I’m old …)

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Er - did you mean Herman’s Hermits, or a different song?


See? I’m so old I’m even forgetting that stuff …


Henry VIII had few to no redeeming features, but this was probably real mercy. Beheading was reserved for the elites because it was considered painless, and that reservation was one of the reasons the guillotine was used in the French Revolution - égalité applied to death sentences too.

Burning was usually only used in crimes against the Crown and/or the Church and considered so painful that later the condemned sometimes had bags of gunpowder tied around their necks to spare them the final agonies. Which apparently rarely worked.


IIRC, if you did it “right” you would have them die from smoke inhalation before actually starting to burn.


The BB headline is real tabloid clickbaitery–even more than the Guardian’s. I don’t think there’s a single significant detail of the execution that I wasn’t already aware of. The discovery of a document laying it all out is interesting (as the Guardian piece points out, the Tudors were great record-keepers), but this is not what one calls “news.” Yes, Henry VIII was a monster. But then, so were many feudal aristocrats–they were formed by a monstrous system–and Henry’s family came to power as the result of a savage civil war.


And don’t forget his gonads are the ultimate source of theological truth for the Anglican Communion.


Which is why the Braveheart scene is so at odds with how the movie tried to sell Mel Gibson’s “man of the people” version of the guy. “High Treason” is only something that could be committed by nobles.

The logic is weird by our standards, but it went something like this: Lower sorts were, by their nature, given to lying and could not be trusted because of their “base” nature. So, they could not swear oaths. Nobility, by their nature, could. “High Treason” meant going against one’s oath to the Crown. Only nobles could swear oaths, and “treason” was a crime against a monarch, not against a country. It was equivalent to blasphemy, since going against a monarch was the same as going against the will of god. Wallace’s method of execution was inflicted because he was a noble who had violated his oath. Had he been a “lower sort” he’d have simply been put to the sword.

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Hmm- while George Boleyn was a Viscount, and three of the other four men convicted of adultery with Anne Boleyn were gentry, the fourth was a commoner and possibly a Flemish immigrant.

The Treason Act doesn’t mention an oath, or indeed say that only nobles could commit treason. It simply says “when a man doth compass or imagine the death of our Lord the King…”.

(Of course, Wallace was tried and executed several decades before the act was passed, under the broader common law definition of treason).


It’s not even trying to be news for one thing. Shitty internet algorithms tell ppl what is trending and the nature of capitalism means they had better pay attention.

I have literally no suggestions for a solution to this problem though. So I just try not to complain too much.

Our entire cultural discourse is being driven by whatever makes some noise this hour. We get to live with that.

I guess it’s better than living at a time when admitting that a man who was likely much like Trump, in a poetic way at least, was looking sick and old could get you beheaded.

Wikipedia says that 35 to 50 thousand people died in the wars oof the roses, but the hundreds years war was responsible for between 2.3 and 3.3 million deaths,

(I had been musing on whether industrialized warfare makes the killing more efficient. Turns out that it doesn’t. Perhaps mother nature steps in and contributes diseases,)

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