H = Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered, A to Z Blog Challenge

This week will be a little more gruesome than previous weeks. Seeing as the only likes I have had during this experiment so far has been for my time talking about cannibalism, maybe everyone’s feeling a little dark these days. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Being hanged, drawn, and quartered was an absolutely horrible way to die. It was used from the 13th century in England as a punishment for high treason. To use the information from Wikipedia, convicts were fastened to a wooden panel and drawn by a horse to the place of execution. From there, the unfortunate person was hanged almost to death. As if that wasn’t enough, he was then castrated and disemboweled. What’s even worse about this is that you can live through this experience. The men would see their own castration and be able to look down and see their emasculation and see their intestines being cut out of them and exposed. Finally, the accused would be beheaded, finally ending the pain and horror. However, as a further indignity (as if there weren’t enough already), the person’s body would be chopped into four pieces.

Even a drawing of it is terrible.

Even a drawing of it is terrible.

Since the royalty were considered divinely appointed, and the king (and sometimes queen) was the head of the country and the end-all, be-all, crimes against the crown were essentially crimes against God (which was a big deal in that time) and the country. That being said, even then some rulers would essentially cringe at the thought of this horrible, heinous, torturous death and commute the sentence to beheading or some other form of execution.

Another ghastly drawing.

Another ghastly drawing.

For instance, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, cheated on him with a cocky dickbag named Thomas Culpeper (who was also earlier pardoned by King Henry VIII for raping a farm woman and killing her husband). Since Catherine was the queen, it could be seen as Culpepper trying to insert (heh.) his lineage into the royal line by getting her pregnant. However, Henry adored Culpepper and Catherine the queen was being beheaded anyway (queens were rarely executed and women rarely tortured in this manner), so I guess Henry figured he might as well just have Culpepper’s head chopped off and spare him the comparative agony. There was another of her former lovers who was not spared, though.

Being hanged, drawn, and quartered was purposefully one of the most horrible deaths in England for a very long time, saved for the vilest offenders against the royalty. It was used to deter those who might plot against the crown. Now, however, it is nothing but a distant, unpleasant memory. In fact, there is an English pub named after it:

Hung Drawn and Quartered pubWith a rather colorful quote out front.

The_'Hung_Drawn_and_Quartered'_,_Great_Tower_Street,_LondonIt makes light of a terrible thing which would send Amnesty International into a tizzy now — and rightfully so. However, I think we are lucky to live in a time where most civilized countries decide that, if capital punishment must be dished out (and I’m not here to make a case for or against), we generally try to do it in the most, uh, humane way possible. Because this particular torture and execution would generally end with your head on a spike, stuck out on a bridge for everyone to see so that they could mock you, vow to never be you, and otherwise terrify the population. We don’t need that in our lives. There’s enough pain and horror out there already.

Alternate letter considerations: He-Man, hypochondriac.

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~ by Darren Endymion on August 10, 2015.

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