Death, Uncategorized

Strange accidental deaths

Dr Steven Gunn has been trawling 16th Century coroners’ reports from 1551 to 1600 and researching accidental deaths in Tudor England. The results are both interesting and sad.

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Crime and Punishment, Death, Justice

Bloody and brutal, Tudor Punishments


This was a very cruel way to die and it was used to convince a prisoner who refused to give a plea of innocent or guilty to change their mind. If no plea was given then a trial could not take place. Pressing took place inside prisons like Newgate or the fleet. The accused was laid on a table and had another table put on top of them. Then lead, rocks and weights were put on until they either decided to plea or were crushed to death.

The prison guards or ‘Keepers’ fed the victim with ‘Three morsels of barley bread without drink for the first day and as much filthy water as they like if they survived to the next day.

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Anne Boleyn, Crime and Punishment, Death, Henry VIII, Justice, Reformation, Tudor women

Why did Anne Boleyn REALLY have to die?..

In the aftermath of the queen’s arrest, the King exhibited the behaviour of a man, who at the very least, wanted to believe his wife was guilty. He spent time being rowed up and down the river Thames on his Royal barge with loud music playing and surrounded by many court ladies. He grew a manly beard shortly Anne’s arrest and was never seen without it again. The full faced, larger than life and intimidating portraits of Henry with his legs outstretched and eyes staring at the viewer were all painted after Anne was dead.

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Crime and Punishment, Death, Free Speech, Justice, London, Tudor, Tudor London

Tyburn Gallows and the birth of free speech

For centuries Speakers corner in Hyde park has been the place where Londoners have stood on boxes and practised their right of free speech. Today some speakers talk complete nonsense to make the crowd laugh, others tell smutty jokes and some shout their political or religious views to the London crowd who boo or applaud.

It was on this site close to Marble Arch where the infamous Tyburn hanging tree once stood and it was at the foot of these gallows that the tradition of free speech began.

It was at Tyburn that condemned prisoners gave their last speech on the gallows before their death making the area an ideal place for public debate and discussion. From this hanging tree culture speakers corner evolved into what it is today and the right of free speech was born.

The first hanging here was in 1108 and the very last was in 1759. After this date the gallows were moved inside Newgate prison. The local people were very angry about the dismantling of the tree as hanging days had always been public holidays for the labouring classes which sometimes drew crowds of over 200,000 people.

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