17th April 1534: Thomas More is sent to the Tower

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On 17th April 1534, The kings right hand man, Thomas More, was sent to the Tower of London to await a trial for charges of treason. More was one of henry VIII’s best chancellor and lawyers, and at one time the two were super pally, but More had over stepped the mark by refusing to give into the King and go against his own better judgement. More, being a strict catholic man, had refused to acknowledge Henry as the head of the church, and as far as henry was concerned this meant that More was proving to be a right pain in the royal hoop.

The trouble all came about when Henry decided that he wanted to divorce his wife of nearly 24 years, in order to bend his member up his fancy piece, Anne Boylen. The Pope was all like ‘ Hell no boy, that ain’t happening, Us Catholics don’t do divorce, or maybe you missed the scroll’. Henry was not in the slightest bit happy bout this so decided to sack off the Pope and make himself the head of the church in England. As you can imagine, this caused a bit of tension and people were pissed off at the idea that their king, who was previously kept in line only by the Pope, was now taking the liberty to make himself even more important and powerful by moving the moral goal posts and putting himself in charge of that aspect of English law too. So, like a spoilt little shit, Henry sought the council of his closest pals to go about binning off the Pope.

More wasn’t having any of Henry’s bullshit. He was Catholic like everyone else at that time, and like everyone else he too recognised that the Pope was the boss…not Henry. What gave Henry the right to make himself the head of a new church? How could Henry be so arrogant to assume that he is the best person for that job anyway? How did he have the nerve to piss off Rome in such a spectacular way that the whole country would suffer and Catholicism would be shaken to its very core? All because the King could’t keep his dick in his pants. Fuck. That. Noise. More wasn’t buying into that shit at all. So, like the predictable, overindulged twat that Henry was, he had More arrested for treason.

Henry was worried that More’s resistance to the idea of him running his own religion illuminated the fact that the Parliament were sceptical of it too, and if parliament had doubts that they dare to voice, then the public wouldn’t be on board either, putting a spanner in the works for Henry’s knobbing. More had to go. Henry found him guilty or treason and sentenced him to death.

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Thomas More’s decapitation at Tower Hill and a rather pleased executioner. Obviously not a fan of the Catholics.

On 6th July, 1535 More was beheaded at Tower Hill. To be fair he got off lightly: the standard form of execution of traitors was to be hung, drawn and quartered, but since Henry and Thomas were once friends, Henry thought he would be kind and lessen the punishment. What a kind ‘friend’ he was. Henry didn’t really want to kill More, he pushed and pushed for more to retract his statement and recognise Henry as the new gaffer, but More wasn’t budging. He was a moral man and knew that there was NO WAY Henry was entitled to  govern the church and break from Rome. More told Henry where to go, he told Henry’s men that he believed  that ‘no temporal man should be the head of spirituality’, (which is a confusing sentence from a man who heavily supported the Pope…another temporal man at one time).

So there we are, another one of Henry’s friends murdered so that the King could get his way. You have to admire Thomas More for committing to his beliefs and having the bravery to tell such a spoilt king to shove his Oath of Supremacy up his arse. The sad thing is that after More’s death Henry soon grew bored of Anne Boylen too, (who suffered the same fate as More).

Thomas more’s head was spiked and placed on London Bridge. It was there for a month or so, rotting away, until it was decided that it would be thrown into the Thames to make space for the heads of other traitors to the crown. Mores daughter, Margaret Roper, decided that she did not want to see her fathers rancid, decaying face sink to the bottom of the murky water so bribed one of the guards to pass it to her and brought it home to save as a relic. It is now presumed to be locked in the Roper family vault at St Dunstan’s church,  Canterbury.

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More’s daughter rescuing her Dad’s head from the spikes at London Bridge. There are better things to inherit.

 

 

 

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29th November 1530: Suicide, Illness or Divine Intervention?

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The death of Cardinal Wolsey

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was, at one time, Henry VIII’s right hand man. He was the Pope’s representative in England, held a ridiculous amount of power and influence, and was the second richest man in the country next to the King, (Hampton Court Palace was actually commissioned by, and built for Wolsey – not Henry VIII, as most people believe). This dude was untouchable.

He died in 1530 after what can only be described as a ‘fucking nightmare’. Henry decided that Wolsey was to blame for everything that was going wrong with Henry’s love life, and that the only way to rectify this matter was to execute him. A common and predictable theme in Henry’s life.

It all started when Henry decided he had had enough of his wife of almost 24 years, and wanted to bin her off. He had found some bullshit clause in the bible which he reckoned made his marriage to Katherine of Aragon null and void in the eyes of God. The fact that Katherine had failed to give him a male heir, and that Henry was (almost)  wetting his end in the cock-tease Anne Boylen, had driven Henry’s desire to push for this annulment. His theory was that because Katherine had been married to his brother before him, the couple were doomed for failure and living in sin in the eyes of the Catholic church. Henry now needed Wolsey to pop and see the Pope and get an annulment.

Wolsey was rather stupidly confident that he could get this sorted so off he went. The Pope inevitably said something along the lines of ‘are you fucking mental? It’s not happening my friend’ (paraphrasing slightly), so Henry’s annulment was denied. Knowing what we know about Henry, you can just imagine how this went down. To cap it off Anne was now spouting a load of bollocks about Henry wasting the best of her youth by keeping her hanging on at the promise of marriage. Henry was not a happy chappy.

The problem was that the Pope was Wolsey’s boss, so Wolsey had to do as he was told, and the Pope was in turn told what to do by his boss, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V…Katherine’s nephew. There is no way that Charles was having it that a bell end like Henry was going to screw over his fab Aunt Katy and use Gods name as an excuse to do it. Wolsey could only do as he was told, and so sided with Katherine, Charles and the Pope. It was a bit of a rock and a hard place situation for the poor bloke.

wolsey  Anne now hated Wolsey, so decided that she would chip away at Henry in order to take matters into their own hands. Henry, who was now desperate to bend it up the manipulative genius that was Anne, was all about this and so decided that Wolsey was going down. How dare he fail to get the annulment and make him look a mug!

Henry had decided that because Wolsey could not secure the annulment, had cock-blocked him from Anne and had been a bit too chummy with Katherine, he should be accused of treason. Wolsey, who was now in York, was sent for. He was to come to London to explain why he couldn’t deliver the goods (and to ultimately be put to death).

At this time Wolsey had a new best pal, a bright young thing who went by the name of Thomas Cromwell. They were travelling together to London when Wolsey took ill. He rested in Leicester and it was quickly becoming apparent that he wouldn’t be able to continue the journey. Wolsey died of a bowel infection and was laid to rest in the Abbey at Leicester. Cromwell,  gutted at the death of his friend, still carried on to London to protest Wolsey’s innocence.

The curious thing about Wolsey’s death was that it happened just before he was obviously about to walk into a massive shit storm. If Wolsey had of made it to London he would have been greeted with accusations & public ridicule; his reputation pulled to shreds by the King’s concubine, a long stretch in the Tower and ultimately a humiliating and painful execution. In a lot of ways his death was conveniently well-timed. I don’t for one minute think that Wolsey would have committed suicide: he was devout Catholic after all. So was it illness, or something else all together? What if Wolsey’s death was the act of a kind friend  sparing the Cardinal his reputation at court, and preventing his public execution?

Before coming into Wolsey’s service, Cromwell was a mercenary who had travelled extensively, fought in wars and was ultimately a freaking genius. He was a lawyer and a badass, and exceptionally loyal to Wolsey. Its not implausible to think that he could’ve poisoned the Cardinal in order to maintain his innocence. By doing this he would also ensure the cardinal was comfortable in his remaining days and still able to get his affairs in order? Now I’m just speculating and there is pretty much no evidence for this, but a man like Cromwell was well-placed to protect his friend and take away the grief and worry the Cardinal would’ve undoubtedly had felt. It would also remove the need for suicide and bowel infections are synonymous with poisoning after all.

Whether it was illness or mercy that killed Wolsey, one thing remains for sure, Cromwell deeply missed the Cardinal and maintained his innocence for the rest of his life. Of course, it was Cromwell that later brought abut the downfall of Anne Boylen, and what happened to Henry in all of this? Well he just carried on being Henry.

 

If you fancy reading a bit more about Cromwell give this one a go: A Massive Fall Out