Most Interesting Methods of Execution In History

Also known as: HOW TO HACK PEOPLE APART… WITH STYLE

Dear readers, this list is completely from memory. This fact should scare you.

Without further ado…

1) GUILLOTINED

Though guillotines are very well-known, and were even at one point touted as a humane method of execution, they make this list for a number of reasons.

Number one – they have a history. True, they were popularized by the Committee of Public Safety in the 1790s during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, but they had existed for years beforehand in places such as England, Scotland and Germany. In one case, an impoverished but brilliant carpenter living in Whitechapel, London, built himself a guillotine and used it to hack his own head off. (He was later buried by the side of the road in a shallow, unmarked grave, since suicide was considered an unforgivable sin).

Number two – their humaneness is questionable. One would think that someone would die after having their head chopped off – but actually, it takes a few seconds for the brain to completely shut down. During that span of time, the victim may feel a wave of excruciating pain. Experiments have been carried out to determine exactly how long this period is – one condemned scientist requested one of his friends to call out his name right after his head had been severed, and promised to give some indication if he (the head, that is, not the other guy) heard it. In another case, a murderer was beheaded and, when a scientist called out the murderer’s name, the head was observed to blink. Guesses range from anywhere from two to even ten seconds.

 

2) CRUSHED TO DEATH

This was especially used during the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries, when the oh-so-gentle government of Britain was trying to “convince” English Roman Catholics to turn Protestant. Those who refused were subject to a variety of persecutions, and some were executed. Among those who were killed was an elderly lady, who was made to lie down with a door on top of her. Boulders were then piled on top of the door till she was crushed to death.

 

3) SCAPHISM-ed (okay, “scaphism-ed” isn’t strictly a word… but we’ll just have to make do.)

This is an especially gruesome one, put to use in ancient Persia. The victim, when sentenced to scaphism, was forced to ingest milk and honey till they developed severe diarrhea. Faeces, milk and honey were then smeared all over the victim’s body, and the victim was suspended over a body of water. Insects were attracted to the dirt covering the victim, and ended up either eating the victim alive or giving him a lethal infection. I think one word about sums this up: “EWWWW!!!!”

 

4) HANGED BY THE NECK UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD

When one thinks of execution methods, hanging is probably the first one that comes to mind. Almost every society has used hanging as a penalty, some more than others – *cough* we’re looking at you here, Britain – but all the same, it deserves a mention here. The duration of a hanging victim’s suffering depended on many factors. Firstly, there was the quality of the rope. If the rope was strong, the victim’s likelihood of hanging to death would be greatly increased. Weak rope tended to break, leaving the victim with an intact neck and a rather painful drop to the wooden scaffold. Secondly, there was the victim’s size – heavier people were likely to drop quicker than lighter ones, and thus be put out of their misery almost immediately with a quick snap of the neck. Light people had to suffer through the agony of being slowly strangled to death.

 

5) BURNED TO DEATH

You’ve probably heard of Bloody Mary Tudor, also known as “that psychotic queen before Elizabeth”. However, there is more to her than that. She was not only the psychotic queen before Elizabeth, she was the psychotic Protestant-burning queen before Elizabeth. England, at the time of Mary’s ascension to the throne, was in the middle of a period of religious turmoil sparked by Henry VIII’s decision to divorce both his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the Roman Catholic church. His son Edward and daughter Elizabeth were both Protestant, while Mary – his daughter by Catherine of Aragon – was a fanatical Roman Catholic. In an effort to revert England back to the “old religion”, she took to burning Protestant dissenters who refused to convert to Catholicism. Now, as you may imagine, burning alive was a fairly unpleasant, not to mention odoriferous, way to go. The condemned would pray for the smoke to quickly suffocate them, in order to avoid the agony of having to feel their flesh blacken and burn to a crisp. Some prisoners’ families bribed the guards to let them tie bags of gunpowder around the prisoners’ necks, so as to ease their sufferings and grant them a quick (albeit messy) death. This is what happened to two Protestant priests who were condemned by Mary – one of them was killed almost instantly by the fumes, while the other was partially burned before his bag of gunpowder went off and he died.

And that, dear readers, concludes How To Hack People Apart… With Style. You probably shouldn’t read this just before you sleep. Or eat. Especially if your food contains milk or honey.

Top Eight Weird Facts About Famous (and Infamous) People – In No Particular Order. And Yes, Henry Tudor is Among Them. Though Luke Skywalker is Not.

 

Self-portrait… sort of. At least this resembles me more than the sturdy blue extraterrestrial did.

Adolf Hitler was vegetarian (or so Wikipedia says). Apparently, he covered his eyes during movies that showed cruelty to animals. Of course, he wasn’t above slaughtering a few million innocent people.

King Henry VIII was playing table tennis when Anne Boleyn was executed. This is true. It was in Horrible Histories.

Macbeth was widely regarded as a great Scottish king; his predecessor, Duncan, was not. Never let Shakespeare do your history homework for you.

The band Pink Floyd hated Andrew Lloyd Webber because he allegedly plagiarized some music from them for his 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera. Frankly, given how absolutely amazing his music is, I’d forgive him. Pink Floyd did not. They wrote a song involving him getting his fingers crushed by a piano lid.

Vlad Dracul of Romania liked eating his dinner among the rotting, impaled bodies of his enemies. He also liked nailing turbans to Turks’ heads. Just the sort of guy you want as your king, right?

One of Louis XIV’s chefs, Vatel, committed suicide because a shipment of lobsters hadn’t arrived on time. Let’s hope that’s just red sauce on your plate.

Some people think Jack the Ripper was a woman – a midwife, to be precise. Midwives often get covered in blood during the course of their jobs, so many people wouldn’t suspect them. Though, really. I would think anyone would suspect a blood-soaked woman strolling around London clutching a knife and a kidney.

Thomas Jefferson fell in love with an Englishwoman, Maria Cosway. He wrote her a 4,000 word love letter titled The Dialogue of Head vs. Heart. Gee, what a romantic guy.

Let’s pretend it’s April 12th because I couldn’t log into this accursed site on the actual April 12th and this title has gone on too long.

I was lazy today, and didn’t feel like writing a legitimate post, so I decided to skive off and make a list instead. Without further ado, I present to you 16…

April 12th Facts!

April 12, 238: Gordian II – whoever he is – loses the battle of Carthage – wherever that is – to the Numidians. His dad, Gordian I, does himself in. Talk about sore losers.

April 12, 1831: A group of soldiers marched across the Broughton Suspension Bridge in England and caused it to collapse. Lay off the fish ‘n’ chips, mates.

April 12, 1869: Henri Désiré Landru is born. By posing as a respectable widower during World War I, he was able to seduce and murder ten women. And one of their teenage sons. I could make a wisecrack about this, but it probably wouldn’t be very tasteful.

April 12, 1877: The UK annexes the Transvaal. This triggered the Boer Wars, fondly dubbed the “Bore Wars” by smart-mouthed world history students.

April 12, 1912: Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX, Second Vice President of Indonesia, makes an entrance into the world. Try to say his name ten times really fast.

April 12, 1941: Nazi Germany annexes Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was a sort of mash-up of a bunch of different Slavic peoples. It didn’t really work out. The Germans were actually welcomed.

April 12, 1945: Less than a month before V-E (Victory in Europe) Day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt conks it. He is replaced by Harry Truman. Nuclear bombs ensue.

April 12, 1947: David Letterman, famous talk show host, is born. I’m too young to be able to make any jokes about him.

April 12, 1953: Lionel Logue, King George VI’s speech therapist, dies.

April 12, 1955: Jonas Salk proclaims his polio vaccine ready. Unfortunately FDR is already dead.

April 12, 1956: Herbert Grönemeyer, German singer, is born. We don’t know what the words in his songs mean, but they sound cool. Especially Der Weg.

April 12, 1972: Dimitrios Kokotis, a Greek high jumper, is born. His highest jump was 2.32 centimetres.

April 12, 1999: President Bill Clinton charged with – we quote – “contempt of court” – regarding his sexual harassment case. Oooo… someone’s been naughty.

April 12, 2010: Derailed train near Merano in Italy kills 28 people. Again, not wisecrack appropriate.

April 12, 2010: First Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Their first action was… well, it must not have been very important, since the Wikipedia people didn’t bother to mention it.

April 12, 2018: Holocaust Remembrance Day. Need I bother to put the wisecrack disclaimer here?

Nothing To Do With The Tudors

Dear readers, this is yet another post about history. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the Tudors, as evidenced by the title of this post, “Nothing To Do With The Tudors”. No, this has to do with Rasputin, the Russian monk who was immortalized by the disco song “Rasputin” –

Grigori Rasputin, self portrait

Grigori Rasputin, self portrait

Ra Ra Rasputin lover of the Russian Queen

There was a cat that really was gone

Ra Ra Rasputin Russia’s greatest love machine

It was a shame how he carried on

This song, while extremely pleasing to the ears, makes a complete mess of his story (He was not actually the Czarina’s lover. More like her puppeteer). So, in order to rectify Boney M.’s gross mistakes, I present to you… the true story of Rasputin’s death!

Grigori Rasputin was born in 1869. This was also the year Vladimir Lenin’s wife was born. Coincidence? We think not.

Okay, yeah, that was probably a coincidence.

Anyway, he was born, and that was the last really important thing that happened regarding his life till 1905, when he was called to the palace to treat Czarevitch Alexei Romanov, who had haemophilia. Now I interrupt this entry in order to give a brief lecture on haemophilia among the royal families of Europe.

Its origins were with Queen Victoria of England, also known as the former Empress of India and the propagator of the popular phrase “I didn’t do it!”

Sorry, scratch that last part. It was apparently “We are not amused.” Though, quite frankly, “I didn’t do it!” would have worked pretty well. Victoria didn’t actually do very much after her beloved husband Albert died.

Anyway, because Vicky was the direct ancestor of the rulers of England, Germany and Russia, her haemophilia was passed down to them – and they, of course, passed it down to their offspring.

Back to Rasputin! Much to the surprise of everyone, he actually managed to heal the Czarevitch Alexei. The Czarina immediately appointed him the unofficial advisor of Russia, giving him the country’s reins of power whenever the Czar was absent – which was most of the time.

Naturally, the Russian aristocracy was far from delighted at this turn of events. The same went for the Russian peasantry; in 1914, a former prostitute named Хиония Кузьминична Гусева stabbed him in the stomach while he was visiting his wife and children in his hometown. He survived, but was plagued by hyperacidity afterwards. He was also immune to poison, but that was not Хиония Кузьминична Гусева’s fault. It is believed that he followed the example of the extremely paranoid Persian monarch Mithridates, who administered tiny doses of poison to himself in order to build up immunity. Eventually Mithridates decided to commit suicide, so he swallowed poison.

It didn’t work. He stabbed himself instead.

Anyway, Rasputin was immune to poison and suffered from hyperacidity. It turns out this was extremely fortunate, because in 1916 a noble named Obi Wan Kenobi decided to kill him.

Actually his name was Prince Yusupov, but Obi Wan Kenobi sounds much cooler, so I’m going to have to go with that.

Now, Obi Wan Kenobi’s actions were widely supported among the Russian aristocracy. Rasputin was powerful, and generally the rule of thumb for aristocrats is you must nurse a burning hatred for anyone more powerful than you.

That, and you have to have really ugly antique silverware.

So Obi Wan Kenobi and his followers came up with a brilliant plan; they’d invite Rasputin to share some wine and cakes, then poison the wine and cakes so he, for once and for all, would die.

What they didn’t take into account is that Rasputin was, as mentioned earlier, hyperacidic – and hyperacidic people, as a rule, avoid sugary foods, since sugar tends to exacerbate their problems.

And wine and cake are – big surprise – sugary foods.

So Rasputin probably didn’t partake of the poisoned sweets, and even if he had he’d have been okay because he was immune to the poison in them anyway.

Of course Obi Wan Kenobi and followers didn’t much like this turn of events, so they decided to shoot him instead.

Unfortunately, Rasputin turned out to be immune to bullets as well* so, thoroughly fed up, Obi Wan Kenobi tied him up and chucked him in the nearest large body of water.

That worked, and Raspy drowned, and his body was recovered some time later, covered in bloody wounds. This was not, however, the last the public would see of him. After the February Revolution, he was dug up from his grave on the grounds of the Imperial Palace and cremated. When his body was set alight, to the horror of the onlookers, it appeared to sit up and move around a bit. This was not, however, because Rasputin had come to wreak ghostly havoc on Russia in revenge for his death. Though that would admittedly be awesome. Actually, what had happened was that the inexperienced cremators had forgotten to cut Rasputin’s tendons before he was burnt, and as a result they shrank and forced the body to bend into odd postures.

Huh. Maybe I should get someone to do that for me.

Anyway, that really was the last time Raspy appeared in person, but his memory lives on in popular literature, documentaries, and of course that awesome song.

Ra Ra Rasputin lover of the Russian Queen

There was a cat that really was gone

Ra Ra Rasputin Russia’s greatest love machine

It was a shame to see how he carried on

Incidentally, yet another one of Boney M.’s songs was about a notorious historical figure – Arizona Barkley, founder of the Barkley Gang and inspiration for a Lucky Luke comic character.

Nah, nowhere near as cool the Mad Monk of Russia.

*There has been some controversy regarding Rasputin’s cause of death – the official autopsy marked it down as drowning, for when his body was discovered his lungs were filled with water. However, some authorities maintain that the four bullet wounds he’d received earlier were the true causes of his death, and that any respectable dead body that’d been chucked in a lake would have water in its lungs, and now that that’s settled let’s have some wine and cakes, shall we? Unpoisoned, please.

A Tudor Story – Part One

I believe Henry VIII was about this size. In his early years, he was extremely fit and muscular – not at all fat. However, due to a combination of overeating and injuries that prevented him from exercising, he became the corpulent King we know today. Oh, and if you didn’t figure this out – this is not Henry VIII. I do not have a portrait of Henry VIII. I have this badly taken picture of a portrait of some guy I don’t know much about.

Hello again, dear readers! Oh goodness, I use that phrase too much. It’s starting to grate on my brain cells now.

Anyway, the topic of my first true blog entry will be – drumroll please – history! You see, I love history. This may sound cheesy, but it’s a really important subject. By learning about humankind’s mistakes in the past, humans can get some valuable ideas on how to fix problems in the present.

Oh dear God, I’m starting to write actually serious stuff. This is a bad, bad sign.

Back to insanity!

Where was I? Oh yes. My love of history. It’s not purely philosophical, of course. History reads a bit like a horror story – a mishmash of blood, guts, and rolling heads. And what teenager doesn’t love a good horror story?

Let’s start with my all-time favorite time period, one that took place in England and stretched from 1485-1603. Ah, I see you fellow history buffs nodding your heads and smiling to yourselves, and thinking “Good choice, very good choice.” For anyone who’s never picked up a history book out of their own volition – from 1485-1603, England was ruled by a set of very special (read: insane) monarchs known as the Tudors.

The ancestor of this illustrious line of sovereigns was a man by the name of Owen Tudor. The reason this isn’t a familiar moniker is because Owen didn’t actually rule. I forgot exactly what he did, but somehow he fathered a baby with royal blood, who later became Henry VII after he defeated Richard III in the Battle of the Roses. Henry VII isn’t going to be the main focus of this piece, mostly because he was… well… to put it as kindly as possible, his personality wasn’t quite as forceful or flamboyant as Henry VIII’s. To put it less kindly – he was a wimp compared to his son.

Which brings us to the point of this piece. Yes, unlike the introductory post, this one actually has a point. And that point is none other than our favorite monarch, Henry VIII. Born in 1491 in Greenwich, England, Hal was destined for a quiet life of solitude and monkhood. Because what not many people know is – Hal had a brother named Luke Skywalker.

No, seriously, he had a brother named Arthur. Who married Hal’s sweetheart, Katherine of Aragon (no, not Aragorn, LOTR fans). But long (very long) story short, Artie died and left Kathy a widow – for the time being. In 1509, when Hal ascended the English throne, he made Kathy his wife. All was pleasant in England…

…for the time being.

Stay tuned for Part Two of A Tudor Story, dear readers!

Blood, gore, and courtly intrigue shall ensue.