Hung, Drawn and Quartered: Its History and the Biographies of its Vicitms

Hung, Drawn and Quartered is an account of the brutal form or execution in Britain from the thirteenth century to the nineteenth century; sometimes carried out for political reasons; often for religious reasons. However, by the nineteenth century, although the six men convicted for treason could have suffered this fate, the sentences were commuted to transportation. Of the others, 158 (including one woman) did suffer the fate of being hung, drawn and quartered. This form of execution was carried out as a punishment for treason, and many of those executed – both Catholic and Protestants – were martyred for their faith. What comes through strongly in all the accounts is how determined people were to hold on to their faith and how their faith sustained them through the ordeal. The seventeenth century saw the greatest number of executions (68); however, it must be stated that all the names recorded may not be the total number. It is noticeable that in the eighteenth century, only nine men are known to have been executed. The sudden drop in executions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries could possibly be accounted for by increased social awareness and humanitarianism and the repulsion of such executions no long being an acceptable public spectacle.

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