Saturday, January 09, 2010

Question from Rachel - Thomas Cromwell's execution


I recently read on a message board that the author Karen Harper in her book "The Last Boleyn" states that Thomas Cromwell was drawn, quartered and then beheaded. I always assumed Cromwell was granted a simple beheading. Does anyone know which sentence he was given?



7 Comments:

Blogger Lara said...

As far as I recall, he was only beheaded (although sloppily, which makes me shudder just thinking about it), but it's possible he was *sentenced* to a harsher fate and was given the mercy of a simple beheading. I'd have to dig to be sure, but perhaps someone else knows?

January 09, 2010 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn R said...

He was beheaded, but according to Hall's Chronicle it was a messy job.

January 09, 2010 8:15 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

As a commoner, Cromwell would have automatically been sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. However, the King had license to commute the sentence to simple beheading, as was done in Cromwell's case. Sadly, Cromwell did indeed suffer, as it took a few hacks before his head came off.

January 10, 2010 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone. That is what I thought as well but this particular author must have her facts a little askew. Oh well, that happens.

January 11, 2010 1:54 PM  
Blogger Gareth Russell said...

Cromwell was entitled to a beheading since had been a member of the aristocracy, having been created a Baron within weeks of Anne Boleyn's execution (presumably for services rendered) and having been created Earl of Essex only a few months before his death.

He did indeed suffer the fate that he was legally entitled to, but it may be that Karen Harper was either mistaken or deliberately embellishing the story for dramatic purposes in "The Last Boleyn." Equally, it was often the fate of those who were beheaded for treason that they were posthumously quarted, with their head and limbs being displayed as a warning in areas or towns associated with their acts of treason. I have never heard of this being carried out on Thomas Cromwell's corpse and arrangements for what to do with his dead body were pretty sloppily organised anyway, since the King was more pre-occupied with his marriage to Catherine Howard on the same day in Surrey. So I doubt he was dismembered post-death, but someone else may be able to definitively answer that question.

Either way, as an earl he was beheaded.

January 16, 2010 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Tudorrose said...

As far as I know Thomas cromwell was beheaded and nothing else.Upon his execution he gave a speech at the scaffold and his head was stricken of but it took a few blows of the axe before his head had been severed.Then his head was held up for all to see then lastly put on a wooden spike.
Cromwell worked his way up high into the kings realm before he was given an earldom.It seems peculiar to me that Cromwell had been made an earl during the Cleeves marriage.Then not long after this he was being stripped from power and then aligned to the Tower.Cromwell was said to have been suspicious of this and he was so correct in his thinking.
Cromwell was originally a commoner but worked his way up withing the royal kingdom to be the kings Cheif minister and then to be made an earl later on.The charges and execution methods were laid down according to the rank of the condenmmed.If Cromwell had stayed a commoner and had not had risen himself up to acheive anything but commited an offence against king or country he would have been hung drawn then quartered but as he built himself up highly in his life he would have undoubtedly been given the punishment of decapitation.According to a source it states that after he was beheaded his head had been boiled before his head had been put on a pole.

January 20, 2010 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, with all that has been said, maybe Henry knew Cromwell was to be executed and elevated his status in the time beforehand to ensure he could have a Nobleman's sentence. However, as I know it. his beheading was quite unpleasant. It took several blows. On the Showtime series of The Tudors they depict the Duke of Suffolk and his entourage taking out a young apprentice axeman, getting him drunk as all get out so that Cromwell WOULD suffer. Hmmm.....we all know his execution was not precisely done. Any thoughts on this?

February 05, 2010 10:12 PM  

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