One of the most popular methods of execution in England during the 1400s was to take off someone’s head , also known as a beheading. Many times, this type of punishment was motivated to satisfy the best interest of political figures. In this article, you will learn about some of the unfortunate victims of beheading, including individuals that held respected positions in society, such as those with the title of baron or earl.
The Southhampton Plot
Richard of Conisburgh was the 3rd Earl of Cambridge. He was executed during the 1400s at Southhampton on the order of Henry V of England because of his involvement in the Southampton Plot. After being stripped of all his titles and estates, Richard was beheaded on August 5th, 1415 along with a fellow conspirator Henry Scrope (the 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham).
The Southhampton Plot was a conspiracy against King Henry V. It was the hope to have him replaced by Edmund Mortimer, the 5th Earl of March. Together, the two men (along with Sir Thomas Grey of Heton) planned to kill Henry at Southhampton before he left for France. Other revolts would follow in different regions by those who supported Mortimer. However, the trio never realized their intentions because the Earl of March alerted the King to the plot on July 31. He claimed that he had only recently (at the time) had caught wind of their plans.
Richard, Scrope, and Grey were quickly arrested and a trial was held in Southampton. Grey was sent to his death on August 3, while the other two died on August 5. Beheadings in England are carried out according to the class of the criminal. Since Richard was an earl and Henry was a lord, they both were beheaded. However, Sir Thomas Gray was a commoner and was drawn and quartered. When Henry was satisfied, he finally sailed to France on August 11.
Beheading at Sea
Not all beheadings were carried out in front of a public audience. In the case of William de la Pole, he lost his head while at sea. It was thought to be at the hands of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. William went by the nickname of Jack Napes and was actually a rather significant important English soldier and commander, who participated in the Hundred Years’ War.
There was a period in time where England had nearly loss all of its possessions in northern France. It was William who was blamed for the failures. For this reason, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was then banished for five years, but while he was on his way to France, his ship was stopped and William was executed.
Rumor had it the Duke of York (an enemy of William) carried out the beheading on the gunwales of a boat. William’s body was then tossed into the waters. His body was later recovered on the seashore close to Dover, where it was then transported to a church in Suffolk. It was given a proper burial.