House of Tudor enemies List

Has anyone made a list of the exact number of people killed by the Tudors: Henry VII, Henry VII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I? I assume Lady Jane Grey didn’t get to execute anyone in her nine days on the throne. I am looking more for family members and court advisors, but if someone wants to include commoners and clergy, go ahead.

Probably not and many would be undocumented anyway. Those were troubled times and life was short and cheap.

I found this:


That very much depends on whether we’re talking about ‘family members and court advisors’ or ‘commoners and clergy’. Some of the Tudors may or may not have been murderous tyrants, but England had a well-organised criminal justice system and all the Tudor monarchs were scrupulous about going through the motions of the legal niceties. Those personally targeted by them always received formal trials in one of the higher law courts, which have extensive and well-preserved (if not always very informative) records. What is a problem are the lesser cases, as the survival of records for the lower courts is much patchier. So lists of the more important victims can be attempted (or here), even if more general statistics are elusive.

Most of those statements are misleading. The 72,000 figure is particularly dubious, as it was probably just made up by a Catholic French bishop. Also, it seems to have been for all executions, whatever the crime and whatever the method of execution. It is undoubtedly the case that thousands of criminals were executed during Henry VIII’s reign. That was the way justice worked in the sixteenth century. But the actual number, whatever it was, will be completely unrelated to the 72,000 figure.

Conversely, the ‘fewer than 300’ for Mary I is just for executions in some way related to religion (treason, heresy etc.). The fairer comparison with Henry VIII would therefore be the statistic (calculated by Geoffrey Elton) that 308 people were executed for treason between 1532 and 1540, the high point of the Henrician Reformation.

IIRC, beheading was a treat reserved for royalty and higher-ups; as opposed to the indignity of being hung and left to rot, which was a calculated insult for some serious enemies but generally a punishment fit for commoners.

Plus, a quick beheading and burial was considered more humane and dignified, as opposed to dangling at the end of a rope and slowly choking then followed by being dismembered and the further indignity of body parts on display, the “drawn and quartered” bit.

Henry VIII especially was, I understand, particularly sensitive to perceived challenges to the legitimacy of his claim to the throne - logically so, considering the Lady Jane Grey episode. however, I have a book of the collected letters of Lord Lisle, imprisoned on suspicion of treason (so his correspondence, collected as evidence, was still available centuries later). Lisle was a descendant of the Plantagenets, so a possible claimant to the throne and in Henry’s eyes a threat. As a result, they kept a close eye on him. However, after a stay in the tower, he died of natural cause (hear attack) and was cleared anyway.

A number of “tens of thousands” as a count for those executed for Henry’s insecurity sounds a little exaggerated, I doubt there were that many nobles in Britain, and especially attracting the attention of the King, and he certainly didn’t wipe out the cream of English nobility.

An ancestor of my wife was burnt at the stake by Mary Tudor; that item of information was handed down through the generations and has apparently been confirmed by modern genealogy. However there have been so many intervening generations that there will probably be many, many thousands of other descendants who have not preserved this memory.

Jane Grey came AFTER Henry – his son Edward tried to change the sucession in order to keep his Catholic sister Mary from inheriting the throne. Jane was the granddaughter of Henry’s youngest sister, Mary, Duchess of Suffolk.

I don’t see how these are related at all. Richard III only legitimate child Edward was already dead as was his illegitimate child. The true heir after Richard III it could be argued was Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV after his male line died off who was mother to Henry VIII. Otherwise I guess the only other legitimate Plantagenet in 1509 would have been the Duke of Clarence’s daughter, Margaret but she was never a serious threat.

The Greys on the other hand had no real claim to the throne. The were a cadet branch of the Lancasters and so to get to them, Henry VIII’s children Mary & Elizabeth had to be bypassed and well as the older branch of Margaret Tudor. Her being made queen was a political game that was doomed to fail.

The De la Poles were the legitimate heirs of the Lancastrian branch, certainly more legitimate claimants than the Tudors. They were descended from Richard, Duke of York, the father of Richard III and Edward IV. They descended from Edward and Richard’s sister, Eizabeth, who married John de la Pole, son of the Duke of Suffolk. Richard III designated Elizabeth’s son, John, Earl of Lincoln, as his heir. John died at the Battle of Stoke, and had no heirs. He had been married to Margaret, the sister of Edward IV’s Queen, Elizabeth Woodville.

Edward’s younger brother, Edmund, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, was beheaded by Henry VIII and had no issue. Edward and Edmund had a brother, William, who died in the Tower of London without any children.

The youngest brother, Richard de la Pole, declared himself Earl of Suffolk (the Dukedom had become demoted during Edmund’s holding of the title) and heir to the throne. He allied himself with France, but never got enough support from the French kings for an invasion, and he died in battle in Italy fighting for the French. Richard was the last legitimate descendant of Richard of York, though he did have an illegitimate daughter.

I acknowledged that they had a legit claim. But certainly Henry VIII did not view them as a threat to his claim unlike the situation with the Grey’s and Mary Tudor.

Yes, I know Lady Jane was after Edward. My point was that from the time of the War of the Roses onward factions with an axe to grind could and would seize any pretext to put forward pretenders to the throne if they thought there was a weakness in London.

Henry VIII was particularly sensitive since his father had come to the throne with a very tenuous claim, so he was worried about others doing the same…

Therefore, he kept a close eye on anyone who could be used as a front for any faction that wanted to claim the throne.

And of course, Lady Jane was as much as anything a pawn in the Protestant vs. Catholic struggle and the ambitions of her family and in-laws…

Henry VIII father’s claim was quite tenuous. His mother’s on the other hand was excellent. While in HVIIIR’s time it was not clear whether the throne could be held by the female heir, it certainly could be inherited through her. So of the many threats Henry had, a good claim was not one of them.

No he wasn’t. Putting aside the fact that Henry VIII himself was a legitimate descendant of Richard of York, as were his sisters, the following other legitimate descendants of Richard of York were alive in 1526:

Anne St. Leger, Baroness de Ros, and her 11 kids
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, and her 5 kids
The two kids of Cecily of York
Henry Courtney, Marquis of Exeter