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Fancy a drink, Sir Thomas?

I have been reading this book, by Ian Mortimer about Henry IV. King Henry ascended the throne of England after successfully deposing Richard II, and his own reign seems to have consisted of one attempt after another to depose him. Yet Henry IV died in his bed of natural albeit very painful causes.

One of these failed rebellions against King Henry, at the beginning of the year 1400, involved a certain Sir Thomas Blount.

Only six men, including Sir Thomas Blount, received the full traitor’s death of being drawn, hanged, disembowelled, and forced to watch their own entrails burned before being beheaded and quartered. Blount’s execution resulted in one of the greatest displays of wit in the face of adversity ever recorded. As he was sitting down watching his extracted entrails being burned in front of him, he was asked if he would like a drink. ‘No, for I do not know where I should put it’, he replied.

I had no idea that the people who suffered these frightful deaths were able to say anything at this late stage in their ordeal. I guess the executioners were trying to be as nice as they could to Sir Thomas, against whom they presumably had no personal animus, rather like Michael Palin in this. But, talk about too little, too late.

12 comments to Fancy a drink, Sir Thomas?

  • That reminds me of the execution of St. Laurentius of Rome, who was supposedly martyred on a gridiron.

    While his executioners were burning him to death, he responded, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side”. (Well, he would have responded in Latin, but you get the point.)

  • Anomenat

    …the thrown of England…


  • Anomenat

    …the thrown of England…


  • John

    The Blount’s, it seems, have not lost their sense of humour(Link).

  • Anomenat

    Thank you, and thank you. I have corrected this error.

  • Paul Marks

    It is good to have the courage to make such a remark.

    However, the difficulty of being so brave is great.

    Better to avoid being taken alive – if at all possible.

    As for Henry IV – treason (against Richard II) and Lollard burning. Amongst many other crimes.

    Nor can he even be claimed to have set up a stable regime.

    For his son (Henry V) married the daughter of the King of France (a man known to have inheritated madness) and, no surprise, their male child Henry VI turned out to be mad.

    Hence the “War of the Roses” as the House of York and their supporters did not see any good reason why they should obey a King who was mentally ill – especially as he only was King because his grandfather took and held the throne by armed violence.

    By all accounts Henry VI was a nice man (unlike Henry IV), but the times could not tolerate a man of sick mind – especially whose claim to the throne itself was not beyond doubt.

  • Anomenat

    Why is it that whenever one attempts to point out another’s mistake, one makes a mistake of one’s own in the process. It’s almost like the universe has a sense of humour.

  • Anomenat

    In the first version of my comment thanking you twice for pointing out that spelling error and saying I’d corrected it, I spelt your name wrong.

    However, I have comment editing privileges here.

  • “I have comment editing privileges here.”

    Do you hire? What’s your rate?

  • In the reign of Henry VIII it is reported that a man suffering the same fate at the hands of a very skilled executioner was also alive and conscious when at a slightly later stage of the grisly event he felt the executioner’s hand reaching for his still-beating heart and said, “Sweet Jesu! Yet more trouble?”

    My husband and I use that as a chatch-phrase when things pile up.

  • Virtue Brothers

    Pepys, October 13, 1660

    I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition.

  • Amos

    What I find interesting is that despite the penalties for treason, so many people still indulged in it.