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Anne Askew Burned at the Stake

Posted by Hayley on July 16, 2011 at 7:52 PM Comments comments (0)

Today on July 16th in 1546, Anne Askew was burned at the stake. She was taken to the tower on the charge of heresy. Anne became the first woman to be tortured in the tower in an effort for her to name other Protestants including Queen Catherine Parr. When she kept quiet, Anthony Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, was forced to stretch her on the rack in the hopes that the pain would force her to name names. It was only when she fainted on the rack that she was taken off.

Anthony Kingston could not longer enforce such brutality against Anne and went to ask Henry VIII for a pardon and explain why he could no longer continue his orders to torture her. Henry VIII pardoned Kingston, but that did not stop good ole Henry form continuing the torture. Instead, he replaced Kingston with Lord Chancellor Richard Rich and Lord Thomas Wriothesley.

Anne later said this about her torture in her testimony:

Then they did put me on the rack, because I confessed no ladies or gentlemen, to be of my opinion... the Lord Chancellor [Risley] and Master Rich took pains to rack me with their own hands, till I was nearly dead. I fainted... and then they recovered me again. After that I sat two long hours arguing with the Lord Chancellor, upon the bare floor... With many flattering words, he tried to persuade me to leave my opinion... I said that I would rather die than break my faith.

She was so weakened by the torture she endured that she could not walk to her execution. Instead, she was carried on a chair to the stake. When asked if she would recant she refused and said she “came not hither to deny my Lord and Master!". She and three other men were tied to the stake. While the other three men cried out at the first touch of the flames, Anne did not scream until the flames had reached her chest.

Anne was brave and a loyal friend. She died refusing to deny her beliefs or turn against any of her friends.

May she rest in peace.

In The Tudors it is Anne Stanhope that provides the gunpowder so that Anne will die faster.

Video of Anne Askew from The Tudors 

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Why you would not want to steal more than one shilling in Tudor England

Posted by Hayley on July 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM Comments comments (1)

  In 16th century London, crime and punishment was as familiar as breathing. In a time where life expectancy was short and survival meant worrying about little else than where the next meal would come from, avoiding disease, and escaping the violence that filled the streets, punishment was the monarchy’s answer to keeping the little educated and socially uninhibited in line.

The city only had 240 constables to keep everyone in line. This meant that crime often went unpunished and the guilty could often get away with their crimes. This also meant that those who were caught suffered harsh and horrifying punishments in the hopes that the brutal example would deter others from committing crimes.

Although it seems logical for one to think that suffering a harsh punishment for even the littlest crime would stop people, Sir Thomas has a different outlook. He argued that the high crime rate was because of the constant use of the death penalty. It invited people to murder because if robbery, and murder were all punished the same under the law, why not commit the worst of them?

In California, where I am from, the punishment for petty theft can range from three years informal probation, six months in a county jail, or a 1,000 dollar fine. If this is your first theft offense and it was under $50, then you could get off with only paying a $250 fine. If the theft exceeded $50, you may be able to participate in a diversion program to avoid jail time.

So if in California, it’s best to steal under $50 and make sure it’s you first theft charge (or just not steal at all. I think that’s the best way!). Now let’s compare that to Tudor England. In modern California your punishment would most likely not be more than paying a fine. In Tudor England, the punishment for stealing over a shilling could be death by hanging. The man who stole under a shilling (1/20 of a pound or 12 pence) would most likely avoid hanging.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to curious Tudor punishment!!

Here’s a Horrible Histories video that spoofs this law.

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