"Francis Throckmorton, Nicholas's nephew, who came of the main, Catholic line of the family, also died in agony, when he suffered the full horrors of treason for his leadership of the Throckmorton Plot against Elizabeth."
Execution of SirThomas Armstrong. Artist unknown. 1684
Public DomainExecution of SirThomas Armstrong. Artist unknown. 1684 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The full horror of a traitor's death, consisted of hanging, drawing and quartering and was, from the 13th century, the penalty for high treason.  After being taken to the place of execution on a hurdle, the convicted man was hanged until nearly dead, then disembowelled, beheaded, and his body cut into four pieces which were then usually exhibited as a deterrent.  Women so convicted were burnt alive instead.  An action against the authority of the monarch was regarded, and treated, as high treason.


The Throckmorton Plot, in 1583, was an unsuccessful attempt to assasinate the Protestant Elizabeth and to place the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots on the English throne in order to restore Catholicism as the established religion of England.  The plot, by Catholics, failed due to the sophisticated intelligence network of William Cecil and Sir Francis Walsingham and the use of torture to extract information from the perpetrators, including one of the leaders, Francis Throckmorton.  He confessed under torture and was convicted of high treason for plotting the life of the sovereign and acting as a go-between for Mary, Queen of Scots and the Spanish ambassador, Mendoza, who was acting on behalf of Philip II of Spain.