Public Execution

Lew Marsolek

Ways of public execution

Public execution was typically used to scare the common people into not committing crimes. This didn't work.

The breaking wheel was also known as the Catherine Wheel and it was a mediaeval execution device. The criminal would be attached to a cart wheel and his arms and legs stretched out along the spokes. The wheel would be made to turn while a heavy metal bar or hammer would deliver bone breaking blows to various parts of the body between the spokes. If a merciful execution had been ordered, after a large number of bones were shattered, fatal blows would be delivered. In cases where mercy was not offered, the criminal would remain on the wheel until they died – this could sometimes take days and the person would die of shock and dehydration.

Execution by Flaying is when the skin of the criminal is removed from their body with the use of a very sharp knife. Attempts are made to keep the skin intact. This is a very ancient method of execution. The apostle Bartholomew was flayed and crucified upside down. His skin and bones are kept in a Cathedral in Sicily.

In Execution by sawing, the criminal would be hung upside-down and a large saw would be used to cut their body in half, starting with the groin, all the way to the head. Because the person was hanging upside-down, the brain received sufficient blood to keep them alive until the saw finally reached the main blood vessels in the abdomen. In the Asian version of this execution, the victim would stand upright and the sawing would begin at the top of the head.

Necklacing is a type of execution in which a rubber tyre is filled with gasoline, forced over the arms and chest of the victim, and set alight. It was a common practice in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s anti-apartheid struggle.

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