Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Who was responsible for the boiling of Richard Roose?

Richard Roose was the cook of Bishop John Fisher and became the first victim of a change in the law that now made it legal to boil people alive as a capital punishment. Bishop John Fisher had had guests who died after eating a soup prepared at the Bishop's house - the Bishop himself survived.

Immediately the cook was pointed out as guilty of poisoning. Henry VIII changed the law (as he would do on other circumstances) and hereby sentenced Richard Roose to a horrible execution: he was to be boiled alive. On April 15, 1532 Richard Roose was taken to Smithfield where he was boiled alive in a large cauldron in front of a large crowd. His execution is estimated to have lasted for two entire hours.

Rumours circled at court that it was not the cook who had poisoned the soup but someone else far closer to the crown itself. The courtiers were quick to name Anne Boleyn and her fraction as the real poisoners. It would seem logical that the Boleyns wanted to assassinate Bishop Fisher due to his refusal to acknowledge Anne as Queen - however the Bishop would be beheaded not long after. But was it true?

The answer must be no. There was - and still is - no evidence that either Anne or anyone in her fraction had bribed the cook to poison the Bishop. But the rumour remained, lurking in the background; it was one of the many rumours that aimed at demeaning Anne Boleyn and make her look like .. well, a witch. Henry VIII certainly never believed it and he was even said to have cruelly exclaimed: "I cooked the cook!" as a joke to his courtiers. It is still unknown who actually poisoned the Bishop and his guests - it would seem strange that the cook should poison his master when he does not appear to gain anything from it.

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