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Old 07-27-2008, 11:00 PM
Heir Apparent
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Melbourne & Sydney, Australia
Posts: 3,978
Royal Executions

I'm rather perplexed.

Having recently watched the 'newly' released Anne Boleyn, I was surprised by the portrayl of her death. Not how she died, by beheading, but the way in which her head was displaced from her body.

She nealed, maintained her posture, her hands unbound if I recall correctly and the executioner standing behind having taken leverage of a sword, proceeded to strike her with such vigour just above her neckline.

Mary, Queen of Scots too was beheaded, but with her hands bound, nealed and bent at the waist with her head placed upon the despatch block. Needless to say, it was the force of an axe which eneded her life.

I knew that a royal death by way of execution was beheading, but I'm not aware if having been born a royal dictated differently to marrying into the position, ie: Axe for royals of the blood and a sword for commoners come royals.

But Anne's brother too was beheaded, but by the swing of an axe so I'm rather confused. Are there any accounts of how infact Anne Boleyn's head was removed? Or that of her brother?

Is anyone able to shed some light?


"Dressing is a way of life" - Monsieur Saint Laurent
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Old 07-27-2008, 11:30 PM
EmpressRouge's Avatar
Serene Highness
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: , United States
Posts: 1,209
I remember reading in biographies that Anne was allowed a sword and a expert swordsman from France by the personal 'favor' of Henry VIII. I don't believe there was any legal or custom for different types of royals. Anne was just an exception.

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Old 07-28-2008, 12:22 AM
kimebear's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Albany, United States
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Anne was granted permission to pay for the services of a swordsman to come from France and do the honors. Beheading by axe was not always a quick method of death. Sometimes it took more than one swing. A sword was generally considered a quicker, neater and more reliable method of doing the job with the first blow.
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:41 AM
Heir Apparent
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Melbourne & Sydney, Australia
Posts: 3,978
Thank you both for your replies.

How fascinating, yet terribly horrible. To acquire the services of your own executioner...what a chilling and gut wrenching thing to have done. I confess though, that as barbaric as it is, I think Anne's choice to have been the more "appealing" of the two.

Those executioners must have been terribly depraved men!! Or if not before, certainly would end up so.

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Old 07-28-2008, 02:37 AM
Menarue's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cascais, Portugal
Posts: 2,157
Not only that MadameR if you read about the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots it is blood curdling as the executioner bungled it and had to repeat his blows numerous times. I don´t know if they were depraved, but they were certainly unfeeling but it was the custom for them to ask forgiveness on the scaffold and to be given it, and then some gift and a request to be quick. Horrible, but I imagine they just considered it a job....whether their consciences bothered them especially in later life we can just imagine.....
Even much later in the days of Samuel Pepys we find that a public execution was a good way to spend an afternoon, I think that royals and nobility were given private executions, which in a way was a concession to their high rank.
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