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PostSubject: Execution of Women   Execution of Women EmptySun Nov 02, 2008 8:16 am

Execution of Women

This was a topic much discussed on a "medieval forum" by myself and others. I would like to share some of the examples that I gave of the instances in which medieval noblewomen were executed.

Firstly, this did not just start with Henry VIII lopping off the heads of a couple of unwanted wives; nor both his and his father's attempts to eradicate the last vestiges (male and female) of the House of York to further consolidated their own tenuous hold on the throne of England (picture the 80yo Countess of Suffolk being chased around the executioners block while he hacked away at her trying to remove her head).

Many female rulers have been executed via assassination and murder to remove them from power and influence, or just to prevent them form becoming a rallying point once removed from power. You will find that most preferred form of punishment for nobleborn women was confinement to a nunnery / convent. Very few women were executed whilst holding office, so to speak, as opposed to the number of documented cases of men being assassinated and / or executed. The women were often removed from their position of power, imprisoned / confined and disposed then of on the quiet.

  • Elizabeth Bathory - walled alive until she died - most likely of starvation (August 1614).
  • Anne van de Hoor - buried alive by Inquisition in Netherlands for refusing to recant (accused of witchcraft).
  • Lucrezia de Medici - poisoned by husband Duke of Ferrara (1561) to vindicate her infidelity.
  • Isabella de Medici (sister of above) - murdered by hands of own husband Paolo Orsini (1576) to make his mistress Duchess of Bracciano.
  • Amalasuntha, Queen of the Ostrogoths - deposed then strangled (535).
  • Brunhilda, Queen of Nuestria - torn assunder (614).
  • Elizabeth of Croatia - put to death (1386) by order of widow of Charles III of Durazzo.
  • Mary Queen of Scots - executed by beheading on orders of Queen Elizabeth I (1586).
  • Lady Jane Grey - beheaded (1554).
  • Joanna I, Queen of Naples - deposed, imprisoned and suffocated by Charles III of Durazzo (1382).
  • Ludmilla of Bohemia - strangled (921) and canonised.
  • Martha Romanov - eliminated by her husband who ruled in the name of her son, Michael Romanov (1619).
  • Mary of Antioch - Byzantine Empress - strangled (1182).
  • Empress Wang - imprisoned and later murdered by rival Wu Chao (c.654).
  • Harem Women of Sultan Ibrahim - sewn into sacks and drowned in Bosphorus (1640).
  • Ines de Castro - mistress / wife of Pedro of Portugal, and murdered by order of Pedro's father, King Alfonso IV of Portugal.
  • Valide Sultan Kosem - strangled - repeatedly (she refused to die aged 80yo).
  • Parisina Malatesta - beheaded by husband Niccolo d'Este (1425) for infidelity with his son and heir Ugo.
  • Galswintha, Queen of Franks - strangled by husband's mistress / third wife Fredegunda (568).
  • Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis - was accused by her stepson, King James V of Scotland (1537) of attempting to poison him and of witchcraft, and she was burnt at the stake.
  • Maria Dolgurukaya - wife of Ivan IV "The Terrible", Tsar of Russia, drowned the day after their wedding for not being a virgin.
  • Mother of Boris Telupa - on the orders of Ivan IV (above), she was defiled to death by 100 gunners then fed to dogs.

And this does not even account for the many thousands of women burnt at the stake on charges of heresy and witchcraft, nor those who suffered at the hands of Vlad Tepes, "Vlad the Impaler".

"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."
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