In the Tudor age there are four queens who were beheaded. The first was Anne Boleyn, the second was Katheryn Howard, the third was Lady Jane Grey, and the final was Mary Queen of Scots.
These queens would be sentenced to death for various reasons during three separate reigns of Tudor monarchs. All are invariably remembered for their deaths, and in some ways primarily for the way in which they died. It was an unjust end for each of these women.
Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII, and I have written about her in previous posts. She was brilliant and stylish. Anne would go on to give Henry a daughter and no sons, as she had promised when they first wed. Their daughter would go on to be one of the greatest queens England has ever known, Elizabeth I.
Katheryn Howard was the fifth wife of Henry VIII, and she also happened to be Anne Boleyn’s younger first cousin. She was young and made impulsive decisions that would lead to her downfall. At the end of the day she has always seemed to me to be a teenager who only wanted love and to have fun!
Lady Jane Grey was known as the nine day’s queen. She was put on the throne briefly when Edward VI died young. He was looking to prevent his older sister Mary Tudor from ascending the throne! Mary was able to gather an army and take power back by force, and she offered Jane Grey the option of converting to Catholicism to save her life. Lady Jane refused and was beheaded a Protestant Martyr!
Mary Stuart was Queen of Scotland, former Queen consort of France, and a claimant to the throne of England! Her claim to the throne of England made her a threat to Elizabeth I. When Mary was widowed she returned from France to her native Scotland, and she set about finding another husband. Her choice was Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, and also her cousin (both having a shared grandmother and claim to the English throne). This particular choice of husband was seen as an attack on Elizabeth and her rule of England. The Catholic nobles in England were desirous of Mary being Queen as she was a Catholic who both married twice, and would go on to produce an heir (things Elizabeth would never do)! After the murder of Mary’s second husband, and her hasty marriage to her third, she was in disgrace. She was forced to give up her throne to her one year old son, and fled to England. In England she did not exactly find a sanctuary, instead being held captive in the houses of nobles. For eighteen years she was a prisoner before Elizabeth signed the death warrant. Mary wore red to her execution viewing herself as a Catholic martyr!
So ends the tale of the four Tudor Queens to be beheaded! Each was rebellious in her own way, and they paved the way for progress and change. The stories of these women are more than tragic and something to empathize with. These stories are inspirational examples of women who lived life by their own rules way before it became common practice!
Note on Image: I found the Tudor Rose image at the top of this post at twinkl.com.
- The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives
- Young and Damned and Fair by Gareth Russell
- Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives
- Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser
- The Tudors (2007-2010)
- Lady Jane (1986)
- Reign (2013-2017)