22 June 1535 – John Fisher

John FisherMary I of England was her dad’s daughter all right. It was easy to see where she got her propensity to bump off religious people from. After all Henry VIII was just the same, just he was motivated by a different religion – Protestantism.

You see, Henry had just passed the Act of Supremacy which had given him carte blanche to do whatever the hell he liked. And that meant execute anyone who spoke out against his new-found über-powers, one example of whom was the Catholic John Fisher.

Ok, so maybe Henry wasn’t as over-zealous as his tyrannical daughter, who is said to have doled out the penalty to over 300-odd blighters in three years – more than the total executed in the previous 200 years. But that didn’t stop Henry having a good go at setting a bloodied example.

So, back to John Cardinal Fisher or St John Fisher as he was to become known. He was brazenly outspoken and happily dissed Henry’s new deity-like power.

Keen to stamp out the resistance, Henry was quick to get shot of the Catholic and he sentenced the bishop to death. However, because the priest had been tried as a common man, he was sentenced to be hanged drawn and quartered at Tyburn.

But this caused a public outcry and parallels were being drawn with his namesake John the Baptist, so Henry decided to ‘reduce’ his sentence to one of beheading. This took place at Tower Hill on this day in 1535, when Fisher had hit the ripe age of about 66. But ironically, this method of dispatch just served to compound the similarities, because that was precisely how John the Baptist was executed.

As a result, John Fisher was canonised as a martyr in 1935, by Pope Pius XI.

Also on this day

22 June 2000 – Shaka Sankofa (aka Gary Graham)
22 June 1920 – William Aldred

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