The Tudor figure Margaret Pole was the Countess of Salisbury. Her son, Reginald, was a Cardinal in the Catholic church and refused to support Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Reg was safely in exile in France and Italy, but poor Mom was back in England where Henry was. He had her imprisoned for two years as a traitor, and then called for her head in 1541.
Since she had royalty in her blood (she was a descendant of Edward III), her execution was private with only 150 in attendance at the Tower Green, within the Tower of London. The sick and frail 67-year-old woman was literally dragged to the block but would not lay her head on it. She was held down and the executioner took aim.
And then the ax came down –WHACK!
Right in the shoulder. Not the neck. Yikes.
In one version of the story, the Countess jumped up and ran from the executioner, who chased her around and took eleven more whacks at her. The poor lady may have been hacked to death like an animal, according to this take.
Many have reported that, every year on the anniversary of her death (May 27), her screaming ghost runs around the Tower Green, and even that other ghosts participate in the spectral reenactment. The fact that she hit the ground running to begin with, at age 67 and in very poor health, was impressive enough. But to keep it up after 450+ years? Priceless.