Saturday, May 09, 2009

Question from Haven leigh - Killing of children after rebellion

Hello, thanks to all who answered my question
I also want to know why or even if Henri killed children during the rebellion against him. On the tv show brandon killed them too. Im not sure the name of this rebellion but I assume it occurred around the same time Jane was pregnant or died.

[Ed note - I'm assuming Haven Leigh is thinking of The Pilgrimage of Grace, which was just recently shown on "The Tudors"]


PhD Historian said...

It was not uncommon for women and children to participate in public protest actions similar to the one known today as the Pilgrimage of Grace. And on those occasions when young people ... usually apprentices or agricultural workers ... took up arms, they were as liable for their actions as anyone else. Youths of the 12-18 year range did sometimes suffer execution if convicted of participating in a rebellion.

I cannot recall seeing reference to any young people among those executed following the Pilgrimage of Grace, specifically, though it is certainly possible. However, the misrepresentation of the events as they were recently depicted on Showtimes "The Tudors" was based principally on the hyperbolic rhetoric found so commonly in documents of the period. Phrases commanding "the utter destruction of them, their wives, and their children..." did not literally command Brandon and his colleagues to execute entire families. "Destruction" could be and was accomplished by means other than death, including by burning down their houses, confiscating their goods and property, etc. Destroying their lives and livelihood without actually taking their lives left them to bear witness to the king's justice and mercy. But for purely dramatic purposes, Showtime decided to depict the phrase literally.

Henry VIII did not personally execute anyone with his own hands, especially not following the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Foose said...

"The Tudors" this week showed the liquidation of the Pole family, including a young son who, after the execution of his grandmother (Lady Salisbury) and uncle (Lord Montague) was solemnly, and sinisterly, led off by Edward Seymour from his cell in the Tower to ... ? The implication is that Henry VIII had ordered him quietly killed. "Cardinal Pole will eat his heart," says Henry gloatingly, lingeringly, at the end.

It's true that Montague's young son disappeared while in the Tower. He was an infant, though, not a 7- or 8-year-old. I've never read a definitive account of what happened to him -- whether he died while in the Tower of natural causes (infants had a high mortality rate), or whether indeed he was quietly murdered. I think after Richard III's reputation was destroyed by the disappearance of his young nephews, Henry would have been wary of killing a noble child. Possibly the historical Henry would have perceived a political necessity in exterminating the last of the Poles. However, Edward Courtenay, the young son of his cousin the Marquis of Exeter -- even closer to the throne than the Poles -- was allowed to live and grow to manhood in the Tower after his father's execution.

It's possible perhaps that some henchman took the decision out of Henry's hands. But I doubt it was Hertford.

Bearded Lady said...

Hi Haven-Leign,

The scenes with the people hanging from the trees were pretty grisly but sadly The Tudors did not exaggerate on this one. It is true that property was burned but the punishments went much further than merely destruction of property.

What they DID botch up was that Brandon was not in charge of these retributions against (some innocent) townsfolk. It was Norfolk who was given explicit orders from Henry in a letter to, ‘before you close it [the king’s banner] up again you must cause such dreadful execution upon a good number of the inhabitants, hanging them on trees, quartering them, and setting their heads and quarters in every town, as shall be a fearful warning, whereby shall ensue the preservation of a great multitude.’

Norfolk went from town to town following Henry’s orders even though he said in a letter that he felt most were innocent. Worst of all, these bodies had to be left hanging as a reminder not to mess with Henry again. Those scenes showing Brandon racked with guilt (which should have been Norfolk) are in my opinion very moving scenes because we can only guess how these killing must have tortured his soul.

We really don’t know if women and children were a part of these heinous crimes but I suspect – “No” for the women and “maybe” for young boys if they looked old enough. We do have accounts of women cutting down their husbands and brother’s bodies after some time had passed because they were arrested later for going against the king’s orders and later set free. Some of these women even died from infection passed on by the corpses.