Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

Categories: History

In its history, mankind has come up with a huge number of executions. There are also quite exotic ones among them, which hardly fit into the heads of our contemporaries. But at all times and in all countries, hanging was considered the most shameful punishment. This was how traitors, conspirators, rapists, murderers and thieves were put to death. For a man of noble birth, hanging was the last terrible humiliation. Why did the most famous method of execution have such an unenviable reputation?

Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

Until relatively recently, from the point of view of history, executions of criminals were carried out in public. It was a real theatrical performance that gathered both those involved in justice and crowds of idle onlookers. People gathered in the square in advance, trying to take a place closer to the scaffold. From there, the main thing was best seen — the process of the massacre itself.

Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

The "hero of the occasion" himself knew perfectly well that he was going to have the last public appearance, according to which he would be remembered. Therefore, many of those sentenced to death behaved with emphasized dignity and showed complete contempt for death. This was especially true of persons of noble origin. It was not good for them to give a reason for joy to the plebeians, who were always in the majority at the scaffold.

But the audience had a completely different interest. No one wanted the spectacle to be short. The most joy to those present was brought by the prolonged torment of the executed. Therefore, there were all kinds of quartering and wheeling, evisceration, impaling and boiling in boiling water alive. Of the civilized executions, hanging was the most spectacular.

The specifics of the execution were well known to everyone. Therefore, if the authorities wanted to humiliate, trample an aristocrat, they betrayed him to hanging. It was an "execution for the poor", unworthy of a nobleman or a merchant. The suicide bomber's desire to leave this world quickly, without suffering and without entertaining the crowd, was not always fulfilled.

Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

The condemned man was very lucky if his neck immediately broke in a noose and death came instantly. But it often happened that a person died of suffocation for a long time and painfully. The hanged man was "dancing" on the rope, his face was distorted in terrible grimaces, and his eyes were popping out of their sockets. In addition, when hanging, involuntary emptying of the intestines and bladder occurs. In a word, everything happens that any person would not want anyone to see it. Especially so that a crowd of thousands of onlookers-commoners watched it.

Any nobleman wanted a "noble death". Once it was beheading, later — execution. In the Middle Ages, there was a complex system of punishments, which took into account not only the origin, but also the guilt. Witches and sorcerers were burned or drowned, lead was poured down the throat of counterfeiters, traitors were quartered. Beheading was supposed to aristocrats, including kings.

Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

A nobleman could be hanged for the most heinous sins, for example, for treason to the monarch. Hanging was a universal execution for the rabble and inveterate recidivists. There were times when the poor were hanged and completely without guilt, for example, for vagrancy.

There was another unpleasant feature of execution with a rope. Usually "for educational purposes" the body was not removed from the gallows. It could hang there for a long time, sometimes until it crumbled into dust. So that the body was not stolen by the relatives of the executed or medical students who were greedy for the dead, it was often placed in a cage.

Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

A real hanging factory with its own name Montfaucon was built in France. The bodies from this huge gallows were thrown into a pit at its base, where the bodies of dukes and barons who had been guilty before the king smouldered next to the corpses of robbers and thieves. It can be said that the humiliation of the hanged nobleman continued even after his inglorious death.

Beheading is quite another matter. If everything went according to plan, the condemned man did not even have time to understand what had happened. The mob could get joy only if the criminal showed cowardice or the executioner could not cut his neck with one blow. To fall from a weapon, sword or axe, to a man, who at that time was almost always a warrior, was considered an honorable death. The heads of high-born ladies were also chopped off. So Henry VIII's wife Anne Boleyn died on the scaffold in 1536, and in 1587 the English Queen Mary Stuart.

Why has hanging always been considered the most shameful execution

The division into noble and ignoble executions in Europe existed at the beginning of the 20th century. Only France completely got rid of sentiment in the 18th century during the Revolution and sent everyone to the guillotine, not paying attention to the origin. Nowadays, a kind of separation of punishments can be seen in some Islamic countries living under Sharia law.

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