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scooter&buster
scooter&buster
The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 2 2009, 10:33 PM EDT | Post edited: Jun 2 2009, 10:33 PM EDT
I've read here, IMDb and other places that Henry purposely had Cromwell executed by a novice so as to make Cromwell suffer. I'm not upset that some one would post that, since it is in several novels and telefilms and the story is repeated as such endlessly on the internet. HOWEVER there is no evidence that this was the case. The only real evideance...the only reliable evidence is that from a man that was actually at Cromwell's execution. I believe the man's last name was Hall...but, I'm not certain. However, his account was something like this, "He patiently suffered the axe of a miserly butcher who ungodly performed his office". Now, that leads one to believe that it was a botched execution. But, it doesn't say how it was botched. It doesn't say it took two or three or more swings. But, I think it's safe to say, yes, it may have taken at least a couple. Otherwise, how can the 'butcher' comment be justified. It's not the story of the botched execution that irks me. It's the often told tale that Henry purposely caused it. There is no evidence that that is true. I've searched Google many times and read numerous books, and were that story is told there is never a single reliable source to back it up.

I don't really think Henry was all that keen to kill Cromwell in the first place, but went along with Norfolk and his cronies because he just wanted to get his marriage to AoC over with and get it on with K Howard. In other words, he was too busy thinking with his little head to use his big one properly. Thus he let the whole Cromwell fall steam roll. That's why when his marriage to KH failed so miserably he knew Cromwell had been unjustly put to death...and he began to regret it.

Anyway, if Henry had wanted Cromwell to suffer, why didn't he just have him drawn and quartered...as was his original sentence?

Sorry, but this myth of his execution bugs me
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Keyword tags: Cromwell Discussion
Nofretete
Nofretete
1. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 2 2009, 11:19 PM EDT | Post edited: Jun 2 2009, 11:19 PM EDT
You mean Edward Hall. He was a contemporaray chronicler. The account of Cromwell's execution is in his book. You can read the whole book here:
http://www.us.archive.org/GnuBook/?id=hallschronicleco00halluoft#5

Search for 'Boocherly' and you will find the right page:
"paciently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged and Boocherly miser, whiche very vngoodly perfourmed the Office"

Cromwell's speech on the scaffold is in there, too.
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LadyLizzy
LadyLizzy
2. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 3:26 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 3:26 AM EDT
As far as I know, an execution was regarded as "botched" as soon as the executioner needed more than one stroke and that was definitely the case. But I agree with scooter&buster, I don't think Henry paid that much attention to the execution to order a clumsy executioner. If he wanted Cromwell to suffer, there was hanging, drawing and quartering.
It actually annoyed me in the show that Eyepatch got the executioner drunk. Seriously, what was that about?! If he hated Cromwell, shouldn't he have shown it a bit earlier? Even the Seymours and Brandon were upset about the butchering. They simply should have shown the executioner as nervous and therefore unable to perform his duty accurately.
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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
3. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 4:03 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 4:04 AM EDT
It's certainly entirely likely that his execution was botched, judging from the wording of Hall's account, however many blows it took. But like S&B and LadyLizzy say, there really is no evidence whatsoever that the axesman was a teenager, or was deliberately chosen by Henry as some form of revenge. I guess it shows the potency of myth-making, even today, because particularly since Episode 8 aired, the story of the teenage axesman has spread like wild-fire across the internet. It's pretty bizarre how many times I've read people discussing it as fact, as though it's backed-up by real evidence and accounts. I guess it makes Cromwell's execution sound more dramatic, the idea of Henry wreaking some terrible final vengeance on him, but it's shame that it's becoming part of the vernacular of the history, and to some extent, a little dangerous; it shows how easy it is for a fiction to take on the currency of fact.

As for Bryan getting the axesman drunk in the show...yeah, that mystified me too. I suppose they wanted the drama of this very personal atrocity being committed between former allies, but it makes no sense, as so many things in Season 3 make no sense, because they didn't take the care to develop any enmity between Bryan and Cromwell. I think we have the one scene between them in Ep.1, where Cromwell has clearly enabled Bryan's elevation in the King's household, but after that they have little to no interaction. Are we to believe that Bryan is just so perverse that he relishes torturing people for no reason, for no personal vendetta? I'm not keen on giving Seymour and Brandon a pass on this, but to be fair to them, they didn't know what was going to happen to Cromwell with regards to the drunk executioner; Seymour actually asked, but Bryan told him to 'have patience'. Bryan's motivations for the 'prank' make no sense whatsoever. Very odd.
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Nofretete
Nofretete
4. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 4:31 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 4:31 AM EDT
I'm guilty about unthinkingly spreading the teenage axeman story as well. Looking at Hall, there seems to be absolutely no evidence for it, unless there is another eyewitness source out there somewhere.
Well, that taught me never to believe a story unless given a primary source for it...

There is an interesting acount of Cromwell's fall on british-history by the way:
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=76156

Reading that is much more informative than the explanations on the show!
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Reggie19
5. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 4:37 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 4:37 AM EDT
"I'm guilty about unthinkingly spreading the teenage axeman story as well. Looking at Hall, there seems to be absolutely no evidence for it, unless there is another eyewitness source out there somewhere.
Well, that taught me never to believe a story unless given a primary source for it...

There is an interesting acount of Cromwell's fall on british-history by the way:
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=76156

Reading that is much more informative than the explanations on the show!"
You're not the only one hun, i was under the impression for a long time that the story had credibility, but it wouldn't make sense, Henry had already spared him the punishment of being hung, drawn and quartered, so why purposefully hire a teenage axemen, especially when Henry wasn't entirely certain in the first place about Cromwell's charge?
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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
6. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 4:43 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 4:43 AM EDT
"You're not the only one hun, i was under the impression for a long time that the story had credibility, but it wouldn't make sense, Henry had already spared him the punishment of being hung, drawn and quartered, so why purposefully hire a teenage axemen, especially when Henry wasn't entirely certain in the first place about Cromwell's charge?"
I thought it was true as well, for ages and ages! It was only really when I started scouting around properly for info about it that I realised how little actual documentation there is about his actual execution. It does make you wonder *where* the story originated from, because for as long as I've known about Cromwell, I've known the story of his botched execution, and that often goes hand in hand with the teenage axesman chosen by Henry story. It must have come from *somewhere*...
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Reggie19
7. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 4:54 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 4:54 AM EDT
"I thought it was true as well, for ages and ages! It was only really when I started scouting around properly for info about it that I realised how little actual documentation there is about his actual execution. It does make you wonder *where* the story originated from, because for as long as I've known about Cromwell, I've known the story of his botched execution, and that often goes hand in hand with the teenage axesman chosen by Henry story. It must have come from *somewhere*..."
Probably the same place Anne's 'being a witch' story came from, because that was how i was first introduced to Anne Boleyn, and i was honestly under the impression for years that Anne Boleyn was a witch, but then again, i was only a child!
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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
8. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 5:02 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 5:02 AM EDT
"Probably the same place Anne's 'being a witch' story came from, because that was how i was first introduced to Anne Boleyn, and i was honestly under the impression for years that Anne Boleyn was a witch, but then again, i was only a child!"
lol! And like the fact that I genuinely believed she had three breasts and six fingers for the longest time (though I was a child as well at the time!). I swear the Horrible History books didn't help...
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Maggie-AnneB.
Maggie-AnneB.
9. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 5:27 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 5:27 AM EDT
Kate your back! LOL. I had first heard about Cromwell's execution when I first took interest in him and I started researching him. Although there isn't anything backing up those claims, the people (Historians, Authors, etc.) seem pretty certain that it took 3 strokes by a young teenager. It's rather annoying that no one else, other than Hall, wrote down on what happened at Cromwell's execution. 3  out of 3 found this valuable. Do you?    
MsSquirrly
MsSquirrly
10. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 5:39 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 5:43 AM EDT
As they say...History is written by the victors...at the time that rumours get spread, it was usually either the protestants or the catholics who "at the moment" were victors and started these stories. However, it has to be said that even Cromwell himself was not averse to spreading a bit of propaganda. Remember he was the one in control of the case against Anne Boleyn & the men who were executed along with her. Brereton for instance had very little to do with Anne but Cromwell had an interest in his lands in Wales and northern England.

Also another myth about Cromwell is that his downfall was totally due to the Anne of Cleves marriage. It certainly made him vulnerable to the political manoueverings against him because Henry was not well-pleased with him and felt the whole thing hadn't been "well-handled"...but it was in main due to the fact that the Duke of Norfolk joined with the catholic bishops against him ( ironically as he had done when the Boleyn faction was brought down) and evidence was planted in his home in the form of incriminating letters to lutherans. Check out his historical profile here : http://tudorswiki.sho.com/page/Thomas+Cromwell++-+Historical+Profile
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MsSquirrly
MsSquirrly
11. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 5:42 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 5:42 AM EDT
Also, there are many questions on this page : http://tudorswiki.sho.com/page/Thomas+Cromwell+Controversies

- If Cromwell fell from favour because of the Anne of Cleves marriage, as most believe, why did Henry title him Earl of Essex in April 1540 - several months AFTER the marriage had been finalized and while negotiations for divorce were underway?

- If Cromwell was executed because his government policies angered the king, as has been alleged, why did Henry give his voluntary approval to ALL of Cromwell's legislation?

- If his enemies were in the ascendancy, why had Henry only recently shown Thomas Howard, 3rd duke of Norfolk (Cromwell's great enemy) open favor? After all, Norfolk had just been sent abroad on diplomatic work - away from the king.

- He was NOT accused of misleading Henry on matters of policy, he was NOT held responsible for the disastrous marriage, and he was NOT charged with leading England into an unwanted Lutheran alliance.

The main part of his attainder was HERESY. It was reported that in March 1539 Cromwell said that, even if Henry turned from Protestantism, 'yet I would not turn, and if the king did turn, and all his people, I would fight in this field in mine own person, with my sword in my hand against him and all other'. And THAT was treason.
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Naphae
Naphae
12. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 6:12 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 6:12 AM EDT
I am confused by another statement, too:

"There were other unconfirmed reports of Cromwell's recent behavior Enraged that the King. Sir John Wallop (an enemy of the former Lord Privy Seal) had told Henry that he had heard from various foreign sources that Cromwell intended to make himself king and that he intended to marry Princess Mary. "
Source: R. Hutchinson "Thomas Cromwell - The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's most notorious minister"

Where did the people these statements? For me it's rather ridiculous. These statements are never credible. These people seemed to really use any means to be right.
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Nofretete
Nofretete
13. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 6:51 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 6:51 AM EDT
"I am confused by another statement, too:

"There were other unconfirmed reports of Cromwell's recent behavior Enraged that the King. Sir John Wallop (an enemy of the former Lord Privy Seal) had told Henry that he had heard from various foreign sources that Cromwell intended to make himself king and that he intended to marry Princess Mary. "
Source: R. Hutchinson "Thomas Cromwell - The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's most notorious minister"

Where did the people these statements? For me it's rather ridiculous. These statements are never credible. These people seemed to really use any means to be right."
I read on british-history in a letter from Marillac (the French Ambassador) to King Francis I. that he intended to marry Mary. Probably a rumour, but it IS mentioned in a contemporary letter.
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Naphae
Naphae
14. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 7:07 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 7:07 AM EDT
"I read on british-history in a letter from Marillac (the French Ambassador) to King Francis I. that he intended to marry Mary. Probably a rumour, but it IS mentioned in a contemporary letter."
However, these statements are incredible! For me at least. ;)

It seems to me that the accusers did not had real evidence against Cromwell, to condemn him as a traitor and heretic.
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Maggie-AnneB.
Maggie-AnneB.
15. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 8:34 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 8:34 AM EDT
They just like to make stuff up.. I highly doubt Cromwell had those kind of aspirations. For one, IMO, if Cromwell wanted to be King, it would be to further the Reformation, etc. That couldn't happen if he were married to Mary, she being a hardcore Catholic, and although in Cromwell's execution speech he claimed he was dying in the Catholic Faith, he had been leaning towards Protestantism in his policies and whatnot. 1  out of 1 found this valuable. Do you?    
Naphae
Naphae
16. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 8:48 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 8:49 AM EDT
Also speaks against this statement, that Cromwell loved the King and did everything for him. Why should he so intrigue against the king? That is proof enough that all statements were lies.

I think I turn myself in circles =))
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Maggie-AnneB.
Maggie-AnneB.
17. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 8:53 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 8:53 AM EDT
"Also speaks against this statement, that Cromwell loved the King and did everything for him. Why should he so intrigue against the king? That is proof enough that all statements were lies.

I think I turn myself in circles =))
"
LOL! Me too... I feel so slow today.. Tis my own fault though.... =D
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Reggie19
18. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 8:53 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 8:53 AM EDT
"They just like to make stuff up.. I highly doubt Cromwell had those kind of aspirations. For one, IMO, if Cromwell wanted to be King, it would be to further the Reformation, etc. That couldn't happen if he were married to Mary, she being a hardcore Catholic, and although in Cromwell's execution speech he claimed he was dying in the Catholic Faith, he had been leaning towards Protestantism in his policies and whatnot. "
I have to agree with you there Maggie, it makes no sense for Cromwell to marry a devout Catholic, whether he and Mary got along or not, the series has only served to confuse me in that regard, but it seems oddly incredible!
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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
19. RE: The myth of Cromwell's execution
Jun 3 2009, 8:59 AM EDT | Post edited: Jun 3 2009, 8:59 AM EDT
"I have to agree with you there Maggie, it makes no sense for Cromwell to marry a devout Catholic, whether he and Mary got along or not, the series has only served to confuse me in that regard, but it seems oddly incredible!"
I'm definitely inclined to agree that it was malicious rumour-mongering on the part of his enemies. Despite what the show portrayed, Cromwell and Mary had a relatively amicable relationship, and she herself was open about how grateful she was for his help during the business with the Oath of Supremacy...but Cromwell's kindness to Mary can't really be misconstrued as a desire on his part to marry her and fulfil some wicked plan to make himself king. That totally makes me think of King Haggard from The Last Unicorn! lol. It's pretty laughable, really, and not even taking into account the Catholic angle.
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