Thursday, 27 June 2013

Joan Boughton's Painful End

Joan Boughton was tried for heresy and sentenced to be burned at the stake; the sentence was carried out on April 28, 1485 (according to Fox's Book of Martyrs). One of the things that had gotten Joan in the ever-paranoid view of the Church was the following statement claiming that:
"she was soo beloved with God and his angelys that all the ffyre in London would not hurt her."
She had also made the "mistake" of openly supporting the doctrines of Wickliffe whom the Catholic Church saw as an increasing threat. The Catholic Church had tried to convince Joan that she could be offered a pardon if she would admit her errors but the elderly lady refused - and paid for it with her life.
Joan Boughton was no less than 80 years old when she was taken to her place of execution at Smithfield which means that she would have been born in 1395. The surprising thing about this case is not that she was given such a hard penalty (burning was the standard execution method for female heretics) but that Joan Boughton was not a nobody. She had considerable influence and status. According to the London Chronicle her ashes were gathered and placed in a pot that would become known as a "precious relic".


  1. 1485 - 80 = 1405,not 1395.

  2. Her burning is mentioned in Hilary Mantel's "The Mirror and the Light" the last in her trilogy novels on Thomas Cromwell. She has Cromwell as a young boy witnessing the martyrdom.