Richard Roose, the man who Henry VIII boiled to death

Henry VIII was one of the most notorious and brutal kings in English history. Known for his six marriages and even executing two of his wives, Henry was bad tempered, paranoid and never to be messed with. Throughout his reign as king, Henry is said to have executed 57,000 people which consisted of even the slightest dissent against him.

This was of course not only bad news for any noble or clergyman who worked with Henry, but anyone in this period engaged in a misdeed of some kind. This brings us to the story of Richard Roose, a man who having despite not offended Henry directly, the king nonetheless arranged to have him boiled to death.

Little is known about who Richard Roose was, or his background. It is suggested he was not even a noble, but seemingly a cook. In 1531 Richard attempted to poison Bishop John Fisher of Rochester by sprinkling a white powder in his porridge. The powder killed two members of his household, but Fisher declined to eat that day and survived. Roose claimed the powder was given to him by a stranger and was intended as a joke, rather than to kill.

On learning of this news, Henry VIII, famously paranoid, believed this could happen to him and instructed the House of Lords to make poisoning a treasonable offense based on this specific case punishable by boiling to death. Because of this, Fisher, already arrested and liable to be executed anyway, was subsequently boiled to death in 1532 in Smithfield, London, the site of many famous executions where William Wallace was also hung, drawn and quartered.

It is claimed Roose roared and screamed loudly on being boiled to death, a fate which would likely see your skin peel off and cook your organs. It is ironic that a three years after Roose was punished that Henry VIII executed John Fisher anyway for opposing his claim that the king was the supreme head of the church of England, citing treason. Fisher was beheaded.

In a nutshell: Henry VIII brutally killed anyone who was deemed a challenge to him, even indirectly.

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