The Catholic University of America


Samuel Gadway's Response

Questions on "Per omne fas ac nefas, secuti sunt’: Interrogative Torture in the Tudor Dynasty

Question #1

If you could highlight just one piece of evidence from your essay (whether it be a passage, primary source, excerpt from a song, or architectural structure) which would you choose and why?  


Far and away, the published Acts of the Privy Council were the most rewarding primary source documents to work with – and in many ways, the most frustrating. While you’re looking through years of records, you really get a sense of the broader, day-to-day bureaucratic work the Council performed - ironing out contract discrepancies with garrison commanders, dispensing funds for state travel expenses, weighing in on Welsh cattle disputes – things of that nature. When an arrest or torture warrant does pop up every now and then, what’s most chilling isn’t necessarily the order itself, it’s how bureaucratically ordinary the order usually appears – as though it was just another item on the agenda for a given day. The most frustrating dynamic of this source was that it was incomplete – with 11 years lost to a fire in 1619. The gap starts right at the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, lasting well into the rule of her successor, James I. Unfortunately, this means any surviving warrants from the last year of England’s most prolific Tudor torturer, and the first years of her successor, are likely lost for good.



 Question #2

What first motivated you to submit to Inventio, and having gone through the process as an author has your perspective on academic writing changed in any way, if so how?


 I really have my Junior Research Seminar mentor, Dr. Caroline Sherman, to thank for encouraging me to submit the paper to Inventio. At the start of the course, I never anticipated anything I wrote would get published, but by the end Dr. Sherman convinced me that this story from Tudor history I had sort of stumbled into telling really deserved a chance to disseminate to a wider audience. Getting there, I soon found out, would take some much-needed editing. Working with Inventio really gives you a more intimate understanding of how crucial collaborative editing really is to any kind of academic writing. The finished product would not have turned out nearly as well as it did without the truly phenomenal work of a whole team of editors – all of whom made insightful suggestions that made the final publication stronger, more insightful, and more impactful.

Question #3

In your paper, you examine the English legal tradition, the Tudors, and their use of torture what sparked your interest in this topic and was there any source in particular that cemented this interest or perhaps acted as a kind of linchpin in connecting all three of these topics?


 Although I only briefly got to touch on him in the paper, the man who really started it all for me, whose story really got me fascinated in this niche topic, was Francis Walsingham – Queen Elizabeth’s Principal Secretary and chief spy handler. If you had been plotting against the Queen one afternoon and found yourself locked up in the Tower of London the next day, Walsingham’s informants probably had a hand to play in your capture, and he’d likely be one of the signatories on your torture warrant – even though he was an English lawyer by trade. If you become familiar with his story, it’ll dawn on you that no monarch, however powerful, really ever rules alone, and just how great an impact “behind-the-scenes” civil servants have on shaping regime security policy. The Crown may “order” the use of torture to obtain information from a prisoner, but someone willing has to actually carry the order out…and feel justified in doing so. I figured that dynamic was a story worth telling.