On this day in 1671 the Irish colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal England’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. Blood, who was a Parliamentarian during the Civil War, was disaffected with the monarchy after losing his Irish estate after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The theft of the Crown Jewels was one of many attempts at insurrection by the colonel. In 1671 Blood, disguised as a priest, and some accomplices subdued Master of the Jewel House Talbot Edwards after he showed them the jewels and then tried to steal them. Blood flattened the St. Edward’s Crown with a mallet and hid it under his coat, another filed the Sceptre with the Cross in two and a third stuffed the Sovereign’s Orb down his trousers.
The alarm was soon raised with cries of “Treason! Murder! The crown is stolen!”. Blood and his men were soon caught and the Jewels recovered. Blood was taken before King Charles II who, to the surprise of many contemporaries and continued puzzlement of historians, pardoned Blood and then gave him land in Ireland. Since then, the Crown Jewels have been kept under armed guard in the Jewel House of the Tower of London.
“It was a gallant attempt, however unsuccessful! It was for a crown!”
– Blood upon his capture