Execution of the Duke of Monmouth
The 15th of July 1685 AD
The Duke of Monmouth , illegitimate son of Charles II , though much liked by the British people – he had taken care to garner support in semi-royal progresses through the land when his father was on the throne – was no leader of men. His rebellion against his uncle James II was a fiasco from start to finish, with no apparent plan other than trying to play on James’s Catholicism. When his supporters were slaughtered by James’s artillery at Sedgemoor he ran for his life like the inconsequential libertine he was. But he was caught, brought to London , and tried.
Begging for his life proved useless. He was executed on Tower Hill just nine days after the rout of Sedgemoor. Famously his execution was one of the most botched in British history. Jack Ketch was a hangman, not experienced with the axe. It supposedly took him eight strokes of the axe-blade to finally cut through Monmouth’s neck so the head could be displayed to the crowd.
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