I was only actually going to write two posts on Mark Smeaton, but Cynthia came up with a rather interesting theory yesterday as to why Mark did not retract his confession and why he said “Masters, I pray you all pray for me, for I have deserved the death” on the scaffold before he was executed.

Michelangelo's fresco of The Fall (original sin)
Michelangelo's fresco of The Fall (original sin)

Why on earth would Mark not take the opportunity to put things right before meeting his maker? We can all understand Mark Smeaton confessing to adultery with Anne Boleyn while under torture, whether physical or psychological, but we are all quite rightly bewildered by his words before death.

There are various theories as to why Mark did not retract his confession and why he said these words:-

  • Fear – As I said previously, Alison Weir wonders if Mark believed that his execution could be changed, even at the last minute, from beheading to hanging, drawing and quartering if he did not comply or if he caused trouble by speaking out.
  • Guilt – By this time, Mark had dug himself a hole and there was no way out of it for him or anybody else. His friends had already been executed and Anne had already been convicted and I expect that his words regarding deserving death were to do with his guilt over what he had done, by confessing.
  • He recognised himself as a sinner – Christians believe that we are all sinners and so deserve death, and separation from God, but that Jesus Christ came to save us and reconcile us with God, so perhaps Mark’s words were just him simply recognising himself as a sinner who deserved death. No hidden meanings, just him confessing his sins.
  • He was guilty – Some believe that these words actually show that there may have been something to the allegations regarding an affair between the Queen and Mark. I don’t buy into that idea myself – Anne was far too intelligent to risk her marriage and crown for a lowly musician.

Now here’s the interesting theory put forward by Cynthia, who says that she doesn’t necessarily give it any credence but thought it worthy of debate and I agree. This theory regarding Mark’s words and actions is the idea of “scrupulosity” – let me explain.

Was Mark Smeaton Scrupulous?

Cynthia directed me to a Catholic website, Catholic Spiritual Direction, with a page about scrupulosity and how to conquer it. On that site, being scrupulous is defined as:

“Our conscience is overly exacting and overly critical of ourselves and we see sins where there are no sins, or mortal sins where there are only venials sins, and this leads to an inner torment of feeling guilty when there is no good reason. It can include tormenting ourselves through worry or fear that we are not in God’s grace or not good enough or are in the state of sin or something similar, so it robs us of the peace Jesus came to give us. So being scrupulous is not good but something we want to get over.”

and also says:

“A scrupulous person is often not committing sins but just worries through fear that every “bad” thought or feeling that comes into them is somehow a sin even though they didn’t want them.”

So, could it be that Mark Smeaton was scrupulous? Did he see sin where there was none? Did he feel guilt at just being attracted to Anne?

In the Bible, we have the following words:

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

These words are tackling the idea of lustful thoughts and advising Christians to endeavour to control their thoughts and not think of sinful things. While thinking lustful thoughts is a far cry from committing adultery, these thoughts, if not tackled, could perhaps lead to the person becoming infatuated and going on to commit adultery. We all know where thoughts can lead! Lust is also one of the Seven Deadly Sins, one of the worst vices that a man can have. So, perhaps Mark was thinking of this verse and of the sin of lust, perhaps he believed that because he was in love with Anne and attracted to her that he was guilty of adultery with her.

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things by Hieronymus Bosch
The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things by Hieronymus Bosch

In her comment on yesterday’s post, Cynthia said:

“It occurs to me that if Smeaton had been overly scrupulous in his religion, then he might have naturally felt pride in Anne’s attention to him quickly followed by a sense of unworthiness at his rise within the Tudor court. Needless to say, had he had a moment’s fleeting amorous thought about the Queen, his benefactress, the anguish would have been enormous to someone disposed to be hyper guilt-ridden.

Scrupulous people confess even to things they haven’t even done and tend to over-compensate for their inferiority through confession–I know Smeaton’s “confession” to Cromwell was in a civil capacity, but if Smeaton was as my theory supposes, Smeaton might have taken the same view of any sort of confession.”

Thank you so much to Cynthia for posing this question and provoking this debate. I do think that this theory may have some merit. It is very easy to analyse ourselves, to be too hard on ourselves for the thoughts we have and to beat ourselves up over things that just aren’t our fault, so it is easy to imagine how a person may have this psychological weakness, this sense of unworthiness and therefore be ridden with guilt over the smallest thought, word or deed.

What do you think? Was Mark scrupulous? Did he have a case of “Catholic guilt”?

Please comment as to why you think Mark confessed or why he didn’t retract his confession, and remember to read my two previous posts on Mark – you didn’t know there was so much to write about little old Mark Smeaton did you?!

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34 thoughts on “Mark Smeaton the Scrupulous?”
  1. Just looking at temperament, I can already see why Smeaton confessed and took the truth to his grave. He was a musician, probably soft hearted. An emotional guy in touch with his feelings. He was not strong enough to stand up for his rights. Fear is a terrible thing! We can’t judge this guy, because we haven’t been in such a situation. I’m sure he was tortured and thinking about a traitor’s death makes me shudder. Poor man.

  2. Hi,

    In part 1, Cynthia poses this question (before she comments about the issue of Mark being too “scrupulous” in his faith):
    “But why, oh why, when he had the chance on the gallows to recant, did he not? I’ve never understood that.”.

    Perhaps, to answer this, we have to look carefully at the unwritten “protocols” for a person who was being executed.

    Lets look at Anne’s execution speech – she was VERY careful in what she said on the scaffold. If we take just her opening line:
    “‘Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. …”

    At first glance, this could be an acknowlegement that she is guilty of what she was accused. But, lets look more closely. She merely says that the LAW has judged her guilty. She doesn’t say that the LAW was correct. She is almost politely saying that the Law was wrong and in modern parlance is an ass!

    Because of her family – parents and specifically her daughter Elizabeth – she could not risk speaking out against the sentence that she received. The potential repercussions that would be brought to bear on them would be terrible.

    What about some of the others who were accused with Anne?
    Sir Henry Norris merely said:
    “I have deserved to die if it were a thousand deaths. But the cause whereof I die, judge not. But if ye judge, judge the best.”

    I find this interesting. “..But the cause whereof I die, judge not.”. He is saying here, that he is innocent. He deserves death anyway because he is a sinner – as all are (the first line), but of THIS particular accusation, he is innocent.

    Its VERY similar to what Mark Smeaton says:
    “Masters, I pray you all pray for me for I have deserved death.”

    It may be that he was very “scrupulous” in his faith as Cynthia suggests, but perhaps it merely reflects the way people thought about their faith and religion at the time. Mark is a sinner by the mere fact that he is human and therefore descended from Adam and Eve who were the first sinners. He has not been a saint in way in his life despite trying to live a Christian life. But as he IS a sinner, he deserves to die.

    What he DOES NOT say, is that he deserves death FOR THE ACCUSATION. (sorry for caps, not sure if I can do italics here).

    There is one other very important reason as to why he says this on the scaffold. He have felt that he deserved death because he was the only one of all the men who was tortured and had a “confession” pulled from him. His lie (though it was brought about by torture) has brought down four men and a Queen, all of whom were totally innocent.

    Without his “confession”, there would have been no case for Cromwell to build on. Perhaps this is the real reason as to why Mark Smeaton only said that he deserved death.

    1. This is exactly what I thought until I discovered he had written Anne a love poem soon before her and Henry started their relationship

  3. Hi Charmain,
    Yes, you’re right, you can’t judge a person until you’ve walked a day in their shoes (is that the right phrase?!). We can’t judge Mark because we have no way of knowing exactly what went on – poor man!

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I agree with you, Anne’s words were very carefully picked, as were many people’s speeches on the scaffold because they did not want those left behind to suffer for their behaviour at execution. Yes, I think the only thing Mark was confessing to was being a sinner and therefore being deserving of death, even if he were innocent of this crime. It is such a tragic story – 6 innocent people executed, a little girl left without a mother, a reputation left in shreds and a lot of grieving families and friends left to pick up the pieces.

  4. VERY good point! As always, excellent blogs or articles, just completely enveloping! There’s no doubt in my mind that she was innocent, and that scrupulous thing makes sense, but of course, we will never know for sure. Thanks for another great read, I am excitedly looking forward to the next one!

  5. I need to type faster – Elizabeth has touched on some of the same points I have.

    Mark being scrupulous and feeling guilty makes more sense to me than his last words being a truthful confession of adultery. If he’d been telling the truth about an affair with Anne, would he have gotten the dates wrong while being ‘questioned’? His confession under interrogation sounded like he was saying whatever his torturers wanted him to say, never mind whether it was even possible. I do believe an easier death for him was dangled as bait at that time.

    But what about those last words on the scaffold? He’d already given them what they wanted, so would it have been necessary for him to confess again? If he was afraid of losing that merciful death, all he really needed to do was not recant to hold up his end of the bargain.

    He made some nonspecific confession of his faults and asked the crowd to pray for him. But it’s difficult to tell whether that was due to ‘scrupulous’ guilt for harboring lustful thoughts about Anne, acknowledging that original sin made him worthy of death, or a fatalistic acceptance that, if the law said he was guilty, he must be guilty. Antonia Fraser, in her book, The Wives of Henry VIII, said that George, and to a lesser extent, Anne, had this mind set. Did Mark also? Was this attitude common at that time? It’s very hard to get into these people’s heads sometimes, beacause they really did think about things differently than we do today.

  6. Before anyone takes what I’m saying the wrong way and an insult to Anne’s memory, let me say flat out that I believe that Anne (and, of course, the 5 men who were wrongly executed with her) was 100% ABSOLUTELY INNOCENT. However, I thought of one reason why Anne MIGHT have been tempted to take a lover (and this is just a theory). When Anne had her last miscarriage, she said “I have miscarried of my saviour”. Maybe she thought that her life was in danger if she didn’t produce a son, and Henry was incapable of performing the act. I read in one of the many Tudor histories (I can’t remember which, I’ve read so many) that George Boleyn represented himself so well at his trial that many thought that he’d be found innocent. (Although I don’t know how, since it was already decided that the men were guilty and it was just a show trial). However, he knew of Henry’s “problem”. The court wanted the testimony of Henry’s impotence written down and handed to the judges to read so that everyone in the courtroom wouldn’t hear it. However, George said out loud in open court that Henry was impotent – which caused, of course, quite a stir. As Alison Weir said in a program on the History Channel in the US several years ago when she was discussing Henry’s armour – if you don’t have hair, wear a big hat – or something to that effect.

  7. Nancy–yes, I thought that to read the statement aloud was very exacting of George. Did it bring about his and/or his sister’s execution? I doubt it as the fix was already in and George damned well knew it. In his own way, I believe he was defying Henry and his whole Kangaroo court in the only way left to him. Anne, of course, couldn’t have pulled something like that because of Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth–I love the way you bring in the “Separation of Church and State” argument as to the pre-execution statements. It’s a good point, that all were acknowledging that even a flawed legal system had authority over them, even wrongly condemned, while somehow God’s greater justice might have allowed them to be wrongfully condemned to bring about a higher good, acknowledging also that all fall short of the glory of God.

    I tend to wonder, though, since Henry’s status as Head of Church had been a fairly recent development, whether they might have been able to use that argument considering that the marriage to Anne was actually the impetus to breaking from Rome, thus causing a unification of Church and State.

    I’m not married to my theory, however, and as has been stated, we’ll never know the truth about these inner-workings. I wish there was a way to know absolutely.

    Claire, thank you. It was well worth the read and debate it brought about. I do love your site.

  8. I found this about scrupulosity–apparently, it’s a form of OCD recognized in modern psychiatry.


    I’ve been looking online to try and find more info about Smeaton other than the bit we have OR other opinions about his conduct and what led up to it–there’s not much more than we already know. Most agree that he was afraid of being drawn and quartered and that is simply it.

  9. Interesting theory. I’ve been following the debate in these comments and everyone is making good points. Regarding what Elizabeth said about the protocol of the execution statements, I am reminded of Karen Lindsey’s Divorced Beheaded Died, which I just read. She touches on this and calls the gruesome death of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salsbury, “refreshing” because she broke the protocol. She affirmed her innocence and basically told the executioner that he could kill her but would have to catch her first. What a scary time to be alive.

  10. Just one question: was really Smeaton a Catholic? After all he was related to the Boleyn, and so the Protestant faction of the Court. But if he was, I think that he may have feel guilty for his desire toward Anne. After all, she was the sex symbol of her time, and a lot of men desired her. But what about his family? He and the other may have feared exactly the same thing that Anne feared: that the King makes their families pay for their rebelious attitudes.

  11. It really is an interesting debate isn’t it? Well done, Cynthia, for thinking it up and I will check out that other link – thanks for that.

    Lexy, Anne actually died a Catholic and I think that although she, her family and friends were reformist, I wouldn’t call them outwardly protestant. I can’t find anything about his family and I’m not sure whether they came to England when he did or whether they were dead. All I know is that his father was a carpenter.

    The Margaret Pole execution story is grisly but at least the woman showed some spirit! It did seem to be the done thing to just accept your sentence, whether you were guilty or not, to protect your family.

    I admire George Boleyn for the way he handled himself at court and at his execution. Nancy, your comment about the armour made me chuckle.

    I’m not sure about the whole “if the law says I am guilty then I am” belief, but the belief that all are sinners because of Adam and Eve’s original sin was a commonly held belief. Perhaps Mark just didn’t know what to say, he may have been so traumatised by seeing his 4 friends die that he just said as little as possible and what was expected of him.

    I think he looked up to Anne, and probably did love her but knew she was out of reach. How he must have felt knowing that his confession was her undoing!

    Thanks, Ashley, I’ll never tire of writing about this story!

    Thanks everyone else for all your comment, we will never really know what was going in Mark’s head but he was carrying some guilt, whether it was guilt for what he’d done to Anne and the other 4 men or guilt over his thoughts. I feel very sorry for him.

  12. Claire thank you so much for the information and topics i sure enjoy every single one. I look foward to reading my e-mails everyday. I have been doing tudor research for about a year now and i must say i cant stop reading im obsessed. lol but is great history.

  13. I’m obsessed too! I’m sitting here surrounded by piles of Tudor books! I can’t get enough of it! I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying the articles, thanks for saying that!

  14. You don’t have to be Catholic to be scrupulous, but in theology, the Catholic church is the only one I can find which actually addresses it. The last article I linked to is written by a mental health professional and cites an example of scrupulosity in Judaism.

    I think the lines between Catholic and Protestant were fairly blurred during the time of Anne’s execution and beyond. I think until Mary’s reign it stayed that way.

    By the way, I want to say that I’m not promoting any religious canon–I’m actually an atheist.

  15. This seems plausable that Mark Smeaton was a scrupulous person.At the end he was just probably blaming himself for the situation as to what had happened at the time.It probably was due to the fact as he had been the first accused thus first taken in for interrogation he probably did feel bad for what he had said in those confessions at Stepney at the house of Cromwell.Thees confessions and what he had said during interrogation depended on the queens life and the other innocent men who were sadly later on condenmmed.Do not forget that Smeaton was a victim in all of this as was the other co-accused.The main culprits behind all of this were the king and Cromwell. Cromwell mostly in particular.If it were not for theese accusations thus interrogations it would not have come to what it came too.Smeaton had no choice in the matter if he had not complied with Cromwell or his other accusers it would had lead to more torturous behaviour and more accusation.Smeaton had probably gave in to get Cromwell and his other accusers of his back.

  16. I know that Anne hat to think to her daughter just before dying, but George, brereton and Norriss’s bravor when facing death may find its origin in their education. they were nobles ans related to old nobility; in medieval knightly nobility, a man had to show courage and honor when going to die ( if possible while fighting heretics or Christendom’s ennemies); that was called a beautiful death. They had to be worth who they were born. So they had to be brave. By the way women were supposed to die a good death, praying in their beds.

  17. It must have been extra difficult for the men to deal with the idea of being executed. First of all because they were innocent, secondly because they really did not have any incentive to die either. What I mean by that is, Anne was to die also, but she had her daughters’ future as a reason to give up her life. She probably felt that her death would guarantee Elizabeths’ place as queen, which was so important to her.
    I wonder how Anne could have felt so sure that Elizabeth would be queen one day. I am sure there were occasions when Elizabeth’s life was at risk even when Mary was stll queen. I think that Mary felt very stong about her Catholic faith and we know that she executed alot of Protestant people in her time. There would have been a very big turn of events if she decided to execute Elizabeth also.
    Which is why I can’t help but think that Anne must have known that there was a chance Elizabeth would never be queen. Especially knowing the way people are arrested and executed on a regular basis in those days, even royalty.
    Any thoughts to this????
    Oh, sorry, got off track, we were discussing Mark, I feel he was innocent and the reason he confessed to the charges was that he was scared and thought that if he confessed he would be let go, as promised by Cromwell. He was trying to say what they wanted to hear.

  18. There is a lot of thought regarding Mark’s “attraction” to the Queen, but there really is no evidence to even suggest that he cared for her beyond that of a loyal subject. There is the “a look sufficeth” story, but what he says to her is ambigous at best and is it something that we can take as gospel?

    It’s probable (just as probable as him being in love with her) that Mark was rising rapidly at court through the King’s aid, that he believed he deserved to be treated like the other men around Anne, playing at courtly love. Anne’s words, “You cannot expect me to look upon you as others” (paraphrased) as well as his, “a look sufficeth” says that her concern at his downcast expression showed compassion when not many others would have cared. Her offering a look eased his troubles. It does not mean that he loved her.

    It was mentioned that many were offended by Mark’s rise in the court, but perhaps one of the main reasons that he was executed was because he was becoming too ambitious and likely flaunted his successes. This was one of the reasons that Cromwell was executed, so it is likely to assume that nobles of the court begrudged any who tried to overstep their places and become more than their birth allowed.

    Cromwell was only beginning to gain power, he was not at his peak yet, which is why he executed Anne. It is likely he chose Mark because it would be horrendous to assume that Anne would sleep with a man of lower birth. But perhaps he also chose Mark because Mark was causing attention by his arrogance due to his rapid success. It would not be good for Cromwell if another man of humble birth acted arrogantly before the members of the court. Soon enough, they would look at Cromwell in a similar manner.

    Mark’s words at the scaffold are just as likely to have to do with his behavior at court. Just because he was accused of sleeping with Anne doesn’t mean that his last words have anything to do with her. In the Tudor period, those born from the lower classes were only beginning to break free of their stations and enter ones above them, despite learning from a young age that God expected them to remain humble. After all, in the Bible, it preached that the poor would be far more rewarded in Heaven than the rich. “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” What if Mark’s words were about his elevation and receiving more than he deserved because of his birth?

  19. This has been such a very interesting discussion, especially the final part and including the concept of “scrupulosity.” In an age, today, when the notion of physical punishment and retribution at almost any level has become so alien, it is clear that we remain fascinated by the whole ritual and procedure of the block. Those who were unfortunate enough to go that way, really did believe it was a meeting with their maker, and those who went to watch were fascinated by the spectacle of someone about to enter into a different dimension, a very special, almost blessed state of being where they became suddenly much closer to God (remember the execution scene in the Tudors where the crowd attempt to reach out to touch Anne as she made her way towards the scaffold. It was a contact that bestowed something special, too – like a kind of magical blessing on those fortunate or bold enough to attain it)

    It is also very true that the concept of original sin would have inspired many of the speeches made at the scaffold. ‘Scrupulosity’ could have played a part in some cases, but in others there were also often genuinely noble sentiments. A few years after the reign of Henry, we have the Duke of Somerset’s words, for example – which I think went something like this (this may not be exact) ‘Good people, I have come here to die, condemned by the law to which we are all subject, and in obedience to this, I am content. For, as I am a man, I have surely deserved many deaths already at God’s hand.’

    The very fact of being human meant that death was deserving. One was guilty of sin by default – simply by being alive. Again, this might seem an alien concept to us today – but look harder. Are you keeping an eye on that carbon footprint of yours! We are still anxious about offending ‘God’ in a sense – though now she is more a pagan Earth goddess, not so much a Christian Father.

    So, I think we have got it about right here: it was not possible that any decent, self-respecting speech at the scaffold would ever have included protestations of outright innocence. To say otherwise would have been to suggest that one was not a believer – and that at a time when everybody did believe.

  20. Hi Robert,
    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this debate too and I’ve loved looking into Smeaton and the other four – such interesting chaps. I do think that when the men spoke of being guilty that they were only talking about original sin, the fact that all men are sinners and are guilty, and not confessing to the crime they were being executed for. As you say, the belief was, and still is for many people, that all humans deserve death and separation from God, and you’re right that any self-respecting speech on the scaffold before meeting the Maker would have included a confession of this guilt, to ready oneself for death.

  21. I wonder if the executions WERE planned in the first instance. Don’t forget that Henry first divorced Anne before beheading her.

    The saying should actually go:
    divorced / divorced-beheaded / died / divorced / beheaded / died

    Maybe Henry would have settled for divorce only. I can’t believe that Cromwell truly wanted Anne gone. After all, they shared something very big in common. I wonder if the thing got out of control. We know that there was never a straight path with Henry.

    As for Mark Smeaton, I think his guilt admission at his execution was an admission to God that he was guilty of lustful thoughts – as were plenty of other men at court towards Anne.

  22. Hi Michele,
    Good point about the saying but Anne was tried and sentenced on 15th May before the annulment happened on 17th May. The annulment was purely to bastardise Elizabeth, so that any children Henry would have with Jane would be heirs to the throne before her and to “draw a line” under Henry’s marriage to Anne so that he could pretend it had never happened.
    I don’t think it is so much that Cromwell wanted Anne gone, more a need and more a “her or me” situation. In my opinion Cromwell caused the fall of Anne and the Boleyns for his own survival. He had seen what had happened to Wolsey when Wolsey lost Anne’s favour and he felt threatened now he had fallen out with Anne. Yes, I agree with you, things did seem to spin out of control. I wonder if Cromwell felt “haunted” by what he did.
    Yes, I agree with you about Smeaton and his confession at his execution. He was just confessing to being a sinner.
    Thanks so much for the comment, Michele.

  23. did anne’s accusers think maybe anne wanted a “bit of rough” and found it in marc smeaton? and could it have been true?

  24. I wonder if Mark was offered the easier death of be-heading if he confessed? It is a puzzle why he did not re-cant his confession on the scaffold if he was indeed innocent. Another puzzle is the wealth that Smeaton had suddenly acquired; the beautiful clothes, the new and finest horses that money can buy. I wonder what were the wages of a musician at the Tudor court?
    If Anne or George Boleyn(her brother) were lavishing such wealth on Mark, the question is why? was his music that good? were they this generous to their other servants? Or, was Mark being paid for services rendered? Was he sleeping with Anne? or George? or both? I know I know! There is no evidence that Anne slept with Mark(apart from his dubious confession) and there is no evidence that George Boleyn was bisexual. But we still come back to the same question. Where did Mark get such wealth from, and why.

  25. Poor Mark, I imagine he was terrified, he may also have been very attracted to Anne and felt guilty at this and that God was punishing him for such sinful lusts for the King’s wife, after all there is a passage in the bible that says even to look upon a woman lustfully is the same as committing adultery. He was a favourite of King Henry I think who admired his musical talents and beautiful voice, he was apparantly a handsome youth so Henry favoured him and may well have bestowed gifts and fine clothes upon him because of this, he may well have been attracted to mark as well hence the commuting of his sentence to beheading . I just pity Mark and what he must have suffered.

  26. I think Thomas Cromwell was waiting for an opportunity to bring Anne down I heard there was a fire in Annes chamber not sure if it was in 1536 maybe that was arranged by Thomas

    I feel really sorry about Mark he could have just had low self esteem and that’s why he confessed and someone said it wouldn’t have done any good anyway to recant before he died the others were already dead not sure where he got the money. I have heard that musicians were often recruited to be spies because they moved freely from court to court. could Mark have been a spy for someone maybe cromwell

  27. Interesting comments about Cromwell, but I think he wouldn’t have dared go after Anne if the driving force behind him hadn’t been Henry VII himself. Old Hank was ready to move on, period.
    In the spirit of a true narcissist, it had to have been Anne’s fault that he was having impotence issues, it wasn’t anything he was doing. Still happens, think of the guy with a heart condition who eats a pizza, has chest pains, runs to the ER, and finds it’s just heartburn, only to ignore his wife when she tries to modify his diet.

  28. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

    It didn’t stop an allegedly pious, already married King harassing ladies at court.

    It was interesting to hear Ian Mortimer explain the master/servant relationship in his “Time traveller’s guide to Elizabethan England” TV series.

    In effect he said “A master could kill his servant and all he had to do to get off was say he didn’t intend to do it”!

    As employees of the King the ladies at Court took their lives in their hands in rejecting Henry’s advances.

  29. Perhaps Mark only felt he deserved to die because he betrayed an innocent woman. And in falsely confessing to adultery, he knows he condemned her and others to death. His guilt was not in the act he confessed to, but the confession itself, knowing it was a lie.

  30. Interesting. Could it be that it was because he was homosexual but had an intense love for Anne at the same time?? He felt that to be a disgrace and to die with that “sin” on him…?

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