2-3-4 Challenge Book Discussions #1 discussion

Who Buries the Dead (Sebastian St. Cyr, #10)
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Who Buries the Dead > Question D

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Jonetta (ejaygirl) | 7619 comments Mod
Why do you think the ghoulish custom of beheading was so commonplace?

Veronica  (readingonthefly) | 694 comments Good question, though I suppose most manners of execution can be considered pretty grisly (hanging, electrocution, stoning, etc.) Maybe they thought it was a quick death? Although it sounds like it took more than one whack for some of those poor souls. Yikes!

Charlene (charlenethestickler) | 1379 comments I have no answer to this question. I might guess it had to do with royal executions -- one knew the offender was truly dead if the head rolled.

Jonetta (ejaygirl) | 7619 comments Mod
I asked my husband about this and he said that it was the joint action of beheading and placing the head on a pike in a strategic location that was the custom. It was supposed to be a deterrent for others considering rebellion and to show the "spoils" of war. It became so customary that failure to do so would have people question whether the person had actually been slain.

Still a pretty beastly practice.

Veronica  (readingonthefly) | 694 comments And can you just imagine the stench when passing all those heads on pikes? Ugh.

Jonetta (ejaygirl) | 7619 comments Mod
OMG! Hadn't even thought about that.

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 2239 comments I was actually thinking about this in the book and wondering when exactly they stopped using beheading as a means of execution in England. It turns out the last beheading was in 1747


Veronica  (readingonthefly) | 694 comments Interesting that the law was still in the books until the 1970s.

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 2239 comments Veronica wrote: "Interesting that the law was still in the books until the 1970s."

Yes, I noticed that. Strange...

message 10: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 40 comments I'm just finishing the chapter that details all the beheadings--kind of difficult reading.

What I remember reading about the history of executions is that the public nature of execution and the extreme violence (drawing and quartering--yeeks!) is that it was symbolic of the power of the monarch--sort of a stand in for martial power. So it was kind of like law-breaking was not about breaking so abstract set of rules, but rather doing something that was a personal attack on the Monarch (and on God), and therefore, just as in a battle your body might be brutalized for having stood out against the Ruler, so by breaking the law, your body was similarly vulnerable. That's why there weren't really "prisons" but dungeons which housed prisoners of all types. The Enlightenment changed a lot of that and introduced the idea of the possibility of reform. Strangely, I think the guillotine was first introduced as a more humane method of punishing people of capital crimes because it was supposed to be instantaneous.

message 11: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 40 comments Another weird thing I'm remembering after reading the author's note is that the remains of many of the French Kings were removed from their original burial site after the revolution and were replaced with the remains of people associated with new Enlightenment ideas--like Voltaire.

Veronica  (readingonthefly) | 694 comments I didn't know that. That is odd, lol.

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