The Tudor Society
  • Mad people can be executed, a miscarriage of justice, problematic prophecies and William Waste All

    In this second part of This Week in Tudor History for week beginning 8th February, I talk about two parliamentary acts that allowed a king to execute his wife and to execute people showing signs of madness; a miscarriage of justice which led to a priest being executed in Elizabeth I’s reign; an Elizabethan astrologer who was ridiculed after his prophecies didn’t come true, and a man known as William Waste-all.

    11th February 1542 – King Henry VIII gave his assent “in absentia” to an act of attainder against his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, and her lady-in-waiting, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. A bill allowing people showing signs of lunacy was also passed, an awful thing, but the king was determined to take revenge.

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  • 12 February 1584 – The execution of five Catholic priests

    On this day in Tudor history, 12th February 1584, five Catholic priests, including James Fenn, were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Fenn was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.

    Richard Challoner, the 18th century bishop, gives details of the life of priest James Fenn in his book Memoirs of Missionary Priests: And Other Catholics of Both Sexes, that have suffered death in England on religious accounts, from the year 1577, to 1684. Fenn was from Montacute in Somerset and was educated at New College, Oxford, and then Corpus Christi College, from which he was expelled after refusing to take the oath of supremacy. He acted as a tutor to students of Gloucester Hall before he took up a tutoring post in his home county of Somerset.

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