The Tower of London is an infamous prison and place of torture/execution in The Tudors. Historically, it was a fortress and keep built by King William the Conqueror, who built it atop an embankment overlooking London during the occupation of the Romans. It is also traditionally where the Queen Consorts of England stay before their coronation. The Tower is feared and dreaded during the reign of King Henry VIII, as those imprisoned within seldom leave alive. To the commoners, it was seen as a sign of royal supremacy and for them never to resist, or even speak a harsh word against the Crown, no matter how ruthless the King or his henchmen happened to be. The Tower has a front entrance where guards report for duty and some prisoners are ushered in, but it also has "Traitor's Gate", an entrance accessible only by boat, which is so secret even people who reside along the Thames near the Tower often do not see this transport. Traitor's Gate is oft reserved for high profile cases that could result in uproar amongst the peasants.
In The Tudors, Henry most often places people in the Tower when they have comitted a crime against the Crown- or, those who have failed the King in some way and are disposed of by framing them. The most common crime people are charged with is treason, Most prisoners are kept in filthy, cold and unkempt dungeons, but those of the aristocracy (or formerly in favor with the King) are at least given a reasonably kept cell and sometimes provided with certain privileges. For example, Thomas More was permitted, for a time, a heater, desk and writing materials during his imprisonment.
Prisoners of particularly high profile may be imprisoned in 'the Chambers', which is a small apartment complete with fireplaces, four-poster beds, scant furniture and a small staff to maintain the rooms. Normally, this suite is reserved for use by the Queens of England before their coronation. While these rooms are still meagre by the standards of noble houses, they are luxurious compared to the rest of the Tower's facilities. The only person imprisoned in the Chambers in The Tudors was Queen Anne Boleyn.
A number of prisoners have suffered nervous breakdowns while held in the Tower's dark, terrifying, rat-infested cells, descending into insanity; examples are Richard Pace and Lady Jane Rochford. Anne Boleyn also began to suffer a nervous breakdown during her captivity (due to emotional distress about the repeated postponment of her beheading) though she was quite composed at her execution. Mad prisoners are most often released or kept indefinitely rather than executed, but in episode 4.05 "The Bottom of the Pot", King Henry issues a bill legalizing the execution of insane people, resulting in Lady Rochford's beheading.
The grounds of the Tower, known as the Tower Green, are often the site of its' victims' execution, usually by beheading. However, in severe cases such as treason or heresy, more brutal methods- such as hanging,drawing and quartering, boiling alive, or burning at the stake- may be used. The severed heads are sometimes displayed on spikes on the Tower walls afterwards. Some victims, should they be of particular offense to the Crown, are taken to be executed at Tyburn instead.
Torture (ranging to great extremes) may be performed with impunity in the Tower as long as prisoners are not of noble blood, although women normally cannot be tortured except, according to King Henry, "in extreme cases of heresy." Though it is usually used to gain information from the victims, prisoners may sometimes be tortured simply out of vengeance, as in the case of John Constable at the hands of Edward Seymour.
The Tower was frequently used in the same manner during the reigns of Henry's three children, particularly King Edward VI and Queen Mary I, who often used it to cage their religious opponents. Queen Elizabeth I (who had been imprisoned in the Tower herself for a period of time during Mary's reign) also often used the infamous prison to deal with her political enemies, but the number of executions at the Tower during her reign was proportionately smaller.
List of Prisoners kept in the Tower in The Tudors:
- Richard Pace- went insane, released
- Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham- executed by beheading
- Simon Fish- executed by burning at the stake
- Sir Thomas More- executed by beheading
- Mr. Roose- executed by boiling
- Cardinal John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester- executed by beheading
- Sir Henry Norris- executed by beheading
- William Brereton- executed by beheading
- George Boleyn, Lord of Rochford- executed by beheading
- Mark Smeaton- tortured, executed by beheading
- Sir Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire- released, but stripped of court positions and expelled permanently from court in disgrace.
- Thomas Wyatt- released
- Queen Anne Boleyn- executed by beheading
- Robert Aske- excuted by hanging (at York Castle)
- John Constable- tortured, executed by beheading
- Lord Thomas Darcy- executed by beheading
- Charlie- executed by beheading
- Richard Pole, Count of Salisbury- executed by beheading
- Edward Pole- executed by beheading
- Lady Margaret Salisbury- executed by beheading
- Sir Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex- executed by beheading
- Sir Ralph Ellerker- released
- John Lambert- executed by burning at the stake
- Francis Dereham- tortured, executed by hanging, drawing and quartering (at Tyburn)
- Thomas Culpepper- executed by beheading (at Tyburn)
- Lady Jane Rochford- initially imprisoned indefinitely due to insanity, later executed by beheading (at Tyburn)
- Queen Katherine Howard- executed by beheading (at Tyburn)
- Anne Askew- tortured, executed by burning at the stake
- Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey- executed by hanging, drawing and quartering