I’ve read that there was stories that there were 78,000 executions under Henry VIII. Have you heard anything more definitive?
I know it sounds ludicrous, especially for since the population of the country was less than 3 million. That would be several times the death rate of WWII in the U.K.

The number is 72,000 on this site
Alison Weir says that 81 people were burnt alive during the reign of Henry VIII.

3 Responses to “Executions under Henry VIII?”

  • Syntinen Laulu:

    That would have been about one-and-a-half times the entire population of London at the time (and London was massively bigger than any other city in the country). How probable is that, do you suppose?

  • rexcaliburn:

    that site is horrible!!! you’d get better history watching the tudors. i love how 4 shillings is 100 pounds when 20 shillings = 1 pound.

    so i get a thumbs down for pointing out an obvious lack of research in the site? ok well if you dont believe me research it yourself.

  • Sybaris:

    Having done some research, it seems the number of 72,000-78,000 comes from Holinshed in most cases. Apart from the more famous executions of Henry’s queens and other leading figures, I’m sure we’ll never know the exact total of more ordinary people killed around the country. As well as hanging, there was beheading, burning, hanging, drawing and quartering, roasting and even boiling to death for poisoning – the latter a law he passed in 1531 when Richard Rosse (or Coke) was alleged to have poisoned 17 people in the household of the bishop of Rochester.

    I attach some information from various web sites, and also some articles you may find of interest under “Sources”.

    According to Raphael Holinshed (died c. 1580) the English chronicler, who compiled the work commonly known as Holinshed’s Chronicles, the number of executions in his reign amounted to 72,000. Anyone who disobeyed the orders of King Henry VIII were executed for treason. These executions also included every living descendent from the Plantagenet line of English Kings. His ruthlessness even extended to Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (1473-1541) who was the last direct descendant of the Plantagenet line – she was as descendent of King Edward III and 68 years old when she was cruelly executed on the block.

    During the reign of Henry VIII, between 1509 and 1547, an estimated 57,000 [source: The Tudors] and 72,000 [source: Historic Royal Palaces] English subjects lost their heads.

    Estimates vary widely. Some suggest that as many as 72,000 people were executed during his reign, yet other estimates are much lower.

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