Nursery Rhymes

Execution by Quartering

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Execution by Quartering
The Medieval period of the Middle Ages was violent, and blood thirsty. In these barbarous times the cruel and pitiless torturers were induced to inflict the horrors of tortures, including quartering. Tortures were sometimes followed by execution including being quartered. This was a French variation of the English execution method of being hung, drawn and quartered.

Torture and execution methods, devices and instruments were used to inflict the deliberate, systematic, cruel and wanton infliction of physical and mental suffering. There were no laws or rules to protect the treatment of prisoners who faced executions such as being Quartered.

Method of inflicting the terrible death by Quartering
Different types of torture were used depending on the victim's crime and social status. There were also different tortures and execution methods used according to the customs of each country. In France execution by Quartering was practised and described as follows:

Quartering may in truth be considered the most horrible penalty ever invented. This punishment dates from the remotest ages. In almost all cases, the victim had previously to undergo various accessory tortures: sometimes his right hand was cut off, and the mutilated stump was burnt in a cauldron of sulphur; sometimes his arms, thighs, or breasts were lacerated with red-hot pincers, and hot oil, pitch, or molten lead was poured into the wounds. After these horrible preliminaries, a rope was attached to each of the limbs of the criminal, one being bound round each leg from the foot to the knee, and round each arm from the wrist to the elbow. These ropes were then fastened to four bars, to each of which a strong horse was harnessed, as if for towing a barge.

These horses were first made to give short jerks; and when the agony had elicited heart-rending cries from the unfortunate man, who felt his limbs being dislocated without being broken, the four horses were all suddenly urged on with the whip in different directions, and thus all the limbs were strained at one moment. If the tendons and ligaments still resisted the combined efforts of the four horses, the executioner assisted, and made several cuts with a hatchet on each joint. When at last, for this horrible torture often lasted several hours - each horse had drawn out a limb, they were collected and placed near the hideous trunk, which often still showed signs of life, and the whole were burned together. Sometimes the sentence was, that the body should be hung to the gibbet, and that the limbs should be displayed on the gates of the town, or sent to four principal towns in the extremities of the kingdom. When this was done, "an inscription was placed on each of the limbs, which stated the reason of its being thus exposed."

Middle Ages Torture
Middle Ages Index

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