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Famous Executions

Queen Anne - Anne Boleyn axed wife(or ex wife) of Henry VIII

One of the most famous executions that I can think of is that of Henry VIII wife and Queen, Anne Boleyn. She is one of many people executed in that entire ordeal, but she is the most famous and the men who were executed with her kinda get lost in comparisson.

The fllowing is said to be Annes’s speach and final words as she was about to be beheaded..

Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law Iqueen anne am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

After being blindfolded and kneeling at the block, she repeated several times: To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesu receive my soul.

How Anne got into her situation

anne boleyn executionAfter the Archbishop officially proclaimed that the marriage of Henry and Catherine was invalid, and Anne was already pregnant, It seems that she was to be the new Queen.

For Anne’s coronation , she had been brought by water from Greenwich to the Tower of London dressed in cloth of gold. The barges following her were said to stretch for four miles down the Thames. On the 1st of June, she left the Tower in procession to Westminster Abbey, where she became a crowned and anointed Queen in a ceremony led by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

By August, preparations were being made for the birth of Anne’s child, which was sure to be a boy. Names were being chosen, with Edward and Henry the top choices. The proclamation of the child’s birth had already been written with ‘prince’ used to refer to the child.

The Princess Elizabeth was born. Anne now knew that it was imperative that she produce a son. By January of 1534, she was pregnant again, but the child was either miscarried or stillborn. In 1535, she was become pregnant again but miscarried by the end of January. The child was reported to have been a boy. The Queen was quite upset, and blamed the miscarriage on her state of mind after hearing that Henry had taken a fall in jousting. She had to have known at this point that her failure to produce a living male heir was a threat to her own life, especially since the King’s fancy for one of her ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, began to grow.

Anne’s enemies at court began to plot against her using the King’s attentions to Jane Seymour as the catalyst for action. Cromwell began to move in action to bring down the Queen. He persuaded the King to sign a document calling for an investigation that would possibly result in charges of treason.

On April 30, 1536, Anne’s musician and friend for several years, Mark Smeaton, was arrested and probably tortured into making ‘revelations’ about the Queen. Next, Sir Henry Norris was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. Then the Queen’s own brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford was arrested.

On May 2, the Queen herself was arrested at Greenwich and was informed of the charges against her: adultery, incest and plotting to murder the King. She was then taken to the Tower by barge along the same path she had traveled to prepare for her coronation just three years earlier. In fact, she was lodged in the same rooms she had held on that occasion.

There were several more arrests. Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton were charged with adultery with the Queen. Sir Thomas Wyatt was also arrested, but later released. They were put on trial with Smeaton and Norris at Westminster Hall on May 12, 1536. The men were not allowed to defend themselves, as was the case in charges of treason. They were found guilty and received the required punishment: they were to be hanged at Tyburn, cut down while still living and then disemboweled and quartered.

On Monday the 15th, the Queen and her brother were put on trial at the Great Hall of the Tower of London. It is estimated that some 2000 people attended. Anne conducted herself in a calm and dignified manner, denying all the charges against her. Her brother was tried next, with his own wife testifying against him (she got her due later in the scandal of Kathryn Howard). Even though the evidence against them was scant, they were both found guilty, with the sentence being read by their uncle, Thomas Howard , the Duke of Norfolk. They were to be either burnt at the stake (which was the punishment for incest) or beheaded, at the discretion of the King.
The Beheadings

On May 17, George Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill. The other four men condemned with the Queen had their sentences commuted from the grisly fate at Tyburn to a simple beheading at the Tower with Lord Rochford.

beheading of anne boleynAnne knew that her time would soon come and started to become hysterical, her behavior swinging from great levity to body- wracking sobs. She received news that an expert swordsman from Calais had been summoned, who would no doubt deliver a cleaner blow with a sharp sword than the traditional axe. It was then that she made the famous comment about her ‘little neck’.

Interestingly, shortly before her execution on charges of adultery, the Queen’s marriage to the King was dissolved and declared invalid. One would wonder then how she could have committed adultery if she had in fact never been married to the King, but this was overlooked, as were so many other lapses of logic in the charges against Anne.

They came for Anne on the morning of May 19 to take her to the Tower Green, where she was to be afforded the dignity of a private execution. She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur. Over that she was a mantle of ermine. Her long, dark hair was bound up under a simple white linen coif over which she wore her usual headdress. She made a short speech before kneeling at the block. Her ladies removed the headdress and tied a blindfold over her eyes. The sword itself had been hidden under the straw. The swordsman cut off her head with one swift stroke.

Anne’s body and head were put into an arrow chest and buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula which adjoined the Tower Green. Her body was one that was identified in renovations of the chapel under the reign of Queen Victoria, so Anne’s final resting place is now marked in the marble floor.

buddhist monk on fire in saigon in 1963This is not an execution, this is the suicide in protest of oppression by a buddhist Monk in Saigon in 1963.

One of the most famous photos in the world is this one taken in 1963 of Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam. Thick Quang Duc burned himself alive and of course to death in June on a street corner in Saigon to bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time.

Buddhist monks asked the regime for the right to practice thier religion and beliefs.

While burning Thich Quang Duc was said to have never moved a muscle.

Most of us have seen this photo, it was published in Life magazine and is still a grim reminder of that era and the brutallity, torture and torment associated with the Vietnam war

execution viet cong vietnam

and here is the video


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