[Guest Post] Punishments for the Upper Classes in Tudor England by April Taylor

Happy release day to my agency mate, April Taylor, for her latest novel, Mantle of Malice. This is the newest book in April's Tudor Enigma series--one part alternate history, one part mystery novel. Yes, my darklings, you can have your cake and eat it too.

The Tudor Enigma series is set in an alternate Tudor universe where Henry IX, son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn reigns over a troubled England. Henry’s best hope is in the unassuming Luke Ballard, apothecary in the Outer Green of Hampton Court Palace.

Unknown to the King is the fact that Luke is an elemancer – a magician who uses the elements to create spells for the good of all. Anne Boleyn knows who and what Luke is, because she, too, is an elemancer.

Mantle of Malice is the third book in April's mystery series:

Luke Ballard has dedicated his talents—and his life—to protecting the throne. As Henry IX's Privy Inquirer and Dominus Elemancer, his loyalty is no longer in question. But when Queen Madeline's coronation is interrupted with the news that Arthur, the baby Prince of Wales, has been abducted, Luke is given an ultimatum: retrieve the royal heir and prevent future threats to the royal family or lose his head.

That the young prince has been taken by dark forces is clear. The evil sorcerers of Custodes Tenebris will not rest until they hold power in England with Catholic Mary as a puppet Queen. Luke has bested them before, but he's never needed to defeat evil while falling in love—Arthur's nursemaid, the beautiful Blanche Oliver, has won him over with her seductive charms.

As Luke's investigation leads into the dark recesses of his own family's past, Blanche's hold on him deepens. With the fate of the Tudors hanging in the balance, Luke will need to draw upon untested strength and sort truth from feminine fiction…for the enemy's reach is long and time is running out.

And of course writing alternate history means April is quite knowledgeable in the history of Tudor England. She has come to share with us today some of the fascinating things she has found through her research, and I will now turn my blog over to April:

Punishments for the Upper Classes in Tudor England

The Tudor Enigma crime fantasy series is set in an alternative Tudor history. Court of Conspiracy was published in May 2014, followed by Taste of Treason in October 2014. Mantle of Malice is published on 23rd February 2015. Though the series is fantasy, it has to be grounded in truth and diligent research, including the darker side of life in those times and one aspect of this is what I would like to share with you today.

Contrary to most people’s perception, torture was against the law unless the perceived crime was considered so heinous - such as treason or heresy - that the monarch ordered the victim to undergo “persuasion” to tell all.  Upper class Tudors like royalty and courtiers were educated and rich and prone to gain power by intrigue. Being accused of a serious crime could result in torture. They would be tried in the Star Chamber and had no recourse to legal representation or right of reply. The rack is the instrument of torture most people have heard of, but, in England, there was only one and it was in the Tower of London. Anne Askew, accused of heresy, was the only woman to be racked before she was burned by Mary I (known as Bloody Mary and eldest daughter of Henry VIII).

Other prisoners might be put in Little Ease, a compartment so small that the victim was forced to crouch for days on end. The Scavenger’s Daughter was a similar instrument that “folded” the victim up and it could be tightened to cause more pain. For traitors, hanging drawing and quartering was the usual punishment. Drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, hanged until half dead, then their still-beating heart would be cut from their body and their remains chopped into quarters and sent to the four corners of the kingdom.

Anne Boleyn asked for a swordsman from France to behead her, because execution by axe was frequently botched - not many people wanted to do the job - and it might take three or four blows before the head came off, causing immense suffering. Lady Margaret Pole, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence (who was allegedly drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine), refused to lay her head on the block. The blundering executioner’s first blow gashed her shoulder, at which point some say she got up and he had to chase her round the block. Whether that is true is unknown, but the State Papers declare the executioner to have been a "blundering youth" who "hacked her head and shoulders to pieces”.


April Taylor was born in Lincolnshire - (the county Henry VIII called the most brute and beestelie of the hole realme.). She has worked as a librarian in public libraries – specializing in local studies. After an interesting time as a prison librarian, she ended her career as an R&D Information Manager for a global pharmaceutical company. Want to know more about April? Check out her website or give her a follow on Twitter