The power of the English monarch to execute subjects

Dec 2014
416
Wales
#11
Unfortunately that's not how English law works. There is no 'line in the dirt' with absolute power on one side and legal protection on the other.There was no point, more a steady erosion of royal power which waxed and waned over 450 years. Henry VIII was probably the closest to an absolute monarch in all that time, but that was only due to special circumstances.

Magna Carta is probably the closest, starting it all in 1215, when it ensured the Barons (and the lords and nobility in turn) had official protection from 'illegal imprisonment' (i.e. the king) and access to swift justice. Most other rules and laws that took power from the king were based around that. Naturally it wasn't that simple, and the charter was repealed, re-issued, changed and even ignored. But officially, in 1297 Edward I made it part of English statue law. The reality is that the nobility controlled the nation's purse strings and, until the Early Modern Age, the military power. The kings needed the support of the nobility, and the Magna Carta was the price for their support.

The absolute power of the king was officially lost when Charles I lost the Civil war, though royal power had been steadily declining for some time before that. The actual shift of power to parliament dates from 1688 and the Glorious Revolution. However the right of the king to rule by decree was long gone by then.
 
Likes: stevev
Jun 2017
2,879
Connecticut
#12
I know Elizabeth gave the order to eliminate Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. Mary was Bloody Mary for a reason, and executed her pretender predecessor. Henry VII whose blood claim to the throne was perhaps the weakest in English history eliminated virtually everyone who had a more viable claim(who was from a male line, back then English technically allowed women to inherit but one had never successfully consolidated power before Mary so it was practically a Semi Salic system). And of course the war of roses wasn't too much earlier. So it was somewhere during Stuart time as I do can not recall a later example then Mary Queen of Scots(can't picture a post Bill of Rights royal execution). If I had to guess would guess during the Charles I or Charles II reign given the Civil War, restoration and whatnot.

Then again maybe George I or George II had power to execute Hanoverians but not so sure that counts. I'm sure Kings could get people killed with the support of their government but in that case is it really them doing it?
 
Jul 2016
9,304
USA
#14
I know Elizabeth gave the order to eliminate Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. Mary was Bloody Mary for a reason, and executed her pretender predecessor. Henry VII whose blood claim to the throne was perhaps the weakest in English history eliminated virtually everyone who had a more viable claim(who was from a male line, back then English technically allowed women to inherit but one had never successfully consolidated power before Mary so it was practically a Semi Salic system). And of course the war of roses wasn't too much earlier. So it was somewhere during Stuart time as I do can not recall a later example then Mary Queen of Scots(can't picture a post Bill of Rights royal execution). If I had to guess would guess during the Charles I or Charles II reign given the Civil War, restoration and whatnot.

Then again maybe George I or George II had power to execute Hanoverians but not so sure that counts. I'm sure Kings could get people killed with the support of their government but in that case is it really them doing it?
Mary Queen of Scots wasn't called Bloody Mary, that was Queen Mary, Tudor, daughter of Heney VIII, older sister of Elizabeth.
 
Jun 2017
2,879
Connecticut
#16
Mary Queen of Scots wasn't called Bloody Mary, that was Queen Mary, Tudor, daughter of Heney VIII, older sister of Elizabeth.
Never said that. Was referring Mary killing the pretender to the throne a dying Edward VI put there. Different Mary.

Though Mary Queen of Scots certainly had some blood on her hands.

Okay looked didn't separate those sentences clearly enough. Was king of going through examples of different Tudors executing people.
 
Likes: MG1962a
Mar 2019
1,192
Kansas
#17
2)Didn't say she got her name for that reason. Was mentioning that notable example. Also isn't treason a pretty arbitrary charge given the circumstances?
I dont think she had a lot of choice with this one. Having a usurper running around is always dangerous. Mind you, as much as my heart goes out for Jane, a few of the people who put her in that situation should have been called to account for their actions.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,647
Australia
#18
I know Elizabeth gave the order to eliminate Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. Mary was Bloody Mary for a reason, and executed her pretender predecessor. Henry VII whose blood claim to the throne was perhaps the weakest in English history eliminated virtually everyone who had a more viable claim(who was from a male line, back then English technically allowed women to inherit but one had never successfully consolidated power before Mary so it was practically a Semi Salic system). And of course the war of roses wasn't too much earlier. So it was somewhere during Stuart time as I do can not recall a later example then Mary Queen of Scots(can't picture a post Bill of Rights royal execution). If I had to guess would guess during the Charles I or Charles II reign given the Civil War, restoration and whatnot.

Then again maybe George I or George II had power to execute Hanoverians but not so sure that counts. I'm sure Kings could get people killed with the support of their government but in that case is it really them doing it?
Mary, Queen of England ( Bloody Mary) and Mary Queen of Scots were two different people.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,163
Las Vegas, NV USA
#19
Never said that. Was referring Mary killing the pretender to the throne a dying Edward VI put there. Different Mary.
That's Mary Tudor also known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of Protestants The pretender was Lady Jane Grey (age 16) who Edward VI named as his successor. He died a minor but the Regency backed his choice, that is until Mary showed up with her armed guards. Mary sent her to the Tower and later had her executed. Many Protestants consider her the true Queen Regnant for the nine days she "reigned".

It seems after deposition and execution of Charles I Parliament usurped the power to judge and pass death sentences although lower courts continued to operate. British monarchs still have the power to pardon although it's a rarely used reserve power. Queen Elizabeth II posthumously pardoned Alan Turing.
 
Last edited:
Jul 2016
9,304
USA
#20
Never said that. Was referring Mary killing the pretender to the throne a dying Edward VI put there. Different Mary.

Though Mary Queen of Scots certainly had some blood on her hands.

Okay looked didn't separate those sentences clearly enough. Was king of going through examples of different Tudors executing people.
Mary Tudor didn't kill her brother.