A Most Unpleasant Job In History!

Apologies for the delay in posts this is due to starting a new job. Today’s brief post was inspired by a Twitter conversation about the job of Tudor executioners. A staggering number of high profile executions were bodge jobs with many blows to decapitate the heads of the treasonous noble class.


Mary Queen of Scots was butchered at Fortheringay castle. The first blow hit the back of her head the second blow the neck but not fully. There are various accounts from three to five more blows before the executioner used the axe as knife to sever the final sinews. When he eventually held up her head it fell out as Mary Queen of Scots wore a wig.



Thomas Cromwell

Henry VIII’s advisor Thomas Cromwell suffered a similar fate, the axe missed the neck and entered the base of the neck.

 The Countess of Salisbury, was 67 when she was executed on Tower

Margaret Pole, the Countess of Sailsbury

Green. The executioner butchered her hacking into her shoulders and neck before removing her head.   


This begs the question what would a job advert for a Tudor executioner say?


Wanted strong butch male who is good with an axe and not afraid of blood. Must not be shy in public places. Uniform is compulsory and consists of black leathers and gimp mask. You are however entitled to keep bonus made on the scafold. Good aim and eye sight is a bonus but not essential. Closing date 1603.


This reminds me of an episode of Blackadder series two called Head. Lets face it Blackadder and Baldrick in charge of an execution, that happens ahead of schedule and a royal pardon – you know its going to be bad and no cunning plan will save the day!!


On this note this was not exclusive to the Tudor age. The Duke of Monmouth James Scot the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II. After attempting a revolt against his uncle James II, he ended up on Tower hill and 8 blows to remove his head!

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One Response to A Most Unpleasant Job In History!

  1. I bet the executioners never thought about how they would feel if they were to lose their head and somebody did a botched job on them, like the did to their victims.

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