A secret war against the Tudors

Henry Tudor's victory over Richard III at Bosworth in 1485 seemed to spell the end for the Yorkists and the Wars of the Roses. However, as Desmond Seward reveals, Henry VII and Henry VIII would find themselves battling real and imagined White Rose conspiracies for decades afterwards

Portrait of Henry VIII. By the 1530s, Henry's fear of Yorkist plots had turned to mania. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the November 2010 edition of BBC History Magazine

On 27 May 1541 Margaret, Countess of Salisbury – over 70 and the only surviving Plantagenet – was awoken at the Tower of London and told she was to die at 7am. “When informed of her sentence, she found it very strange, not knowing her crime, but she walked to a place in front of the Tower where there was no scaffold but only a small block,” reported Chapuys, the ambassador to England of the Holy Roman Emperor. The executioner’s place was taken by a clumsy young man, who hacked her head and shoulders to pieces. Margaret’s rank saved her from being burned alive, the statutory penalty for female traitors, suffered by several women during Henry VIII’s reign.

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