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The question breaks down into two parts: Why a swordsman instead of an axeman, and why the swordsman of Calais. Anne Boleyn's PREFERENCE was for a "swordsman" rather than an "axeman." (This is different from my earlier, and now "retracted" statement that it was her request.) In the letter referenced in the question, the warden of the Tower of London ...


Cutting off a head in one blow is somewhat harder than it may sound; the main issues are that the vertebrae are hard bones and unless the executioner is skilled he could miss, hitting the head or back instead. If the executioner misses by even an inch things can get very messy. In those days a class of professional executioners existed who used specialized ...

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