Defined Terms

Early Capital Punishment practices globally -

*      Deterred similar transgressions from the masses by painful, frightening and often drawn out execution/s in the public square; and

*      accorded with Professor Andrew Day, Melb Uni, Crime and punishment and rehabilitation: a smarter approach (June 2015) that asserts that that Punishment "needs to be predictable, applied at maximum intensity to be effective and be dispensed swiftly"

Jesus of Nazareth was executed in a vicious way to send out a patent message not to similarly transgress.  Joan of Arc was also executed brutally.  Former King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were executed with the guillotine in 1793 at the outset of the French Revolution.  Swift and cruel punishment in the public forum was deemed necessary as a cogent deterrent to others not to similar contravene.

Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation. Most often performed to dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating similar (usually particularly heinous) crimes. Victims were sometimes left on display after death as a warning to any other potential criminals. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of crucifying"), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period.

Decimation (Latin: decimatio = "ten") was a form of military discipline used by senior commanders in the Roman Army to punish units or large groups guilty of mutiny or desertion. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth".  A cohort (roughly 480 soldiers) selected for punishment for desertion/running from battle by decimation was divided into groups of ten. Each group drew lots, and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. As the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in a group sentenced to decimation were potentially liable for execution, regardless of individual degrees of fault, rank, or distinction.

Roman Christians fed to the Lions

"Being condemned to the beasts was a particularly grisly end. It meant that you and your companions would be exposed in the arena to a variety of wild and ferocious animals, such as leopards, boars, and yes, lions, that required to fight for your lives.  This was one part of a day-long festival of violence and slaughter, and was usually scheduled during the lunchtime interval to provide some light relief. During the birthday celebrations for the emperor’s son at Carthage, it was evidently thought amusing to match the female martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas with a maddened heifer, who tossed them in the air and crushed them.  It is important to emphasise that such cruel deaths were not unique to Christians. Condemnation to the beasts was a popular punishment for criminals of any type, because it maximized their suffering and allowed good and proper Roman citizens to gain pleasure from the deaths of wrong-doers."

Keelhauling was a type of naval punishment in the 17th and 18th century, although officially only the Dutch Navy practiced it, under the name of kielhalen. A brutal form of corporal punishment that involves dragging the offender underwater from one side of a ship to the other. In a period when the word of the ship captain was law, it was only one in a variety of unpleasant punishment tactics that could easily kill a sailor.  This punishment first appeared in 1560, when a Dutch ordinance outlined the practice and the offenses for which it could be used. Other maritime powers, including Britain, adopted the practice as well, although it began to be phased out in the 1700s. The Dutch Navy did not ban keelhauling until 1853, when a more humane era of sailing frowned on the practice.  When a sailor was keelhauled, he would be stripped and tied so that he could not swim. Usually, a weight was attached to his legs to pull him away from the ship. The sailor was attached to a rope that ran underwater from one side of the ship to the other, and he was rapidly pulled through the water. Assuming the sailor did not usually drown, he would severely injured by the extremely sharp barnacles on the underside of the ship, known as the keel. This practice would leave severe scars on the flesh of the sailor, serving as a constant reminder of the event.

Sharia Law has existed since the early Islamic states of the eighth and ninth centuries.  Within Sharia, some crimes are known as hudud, for which there are specific penalties specified by Islam. According to some interpretations, adultery is punished by stoning, fornication and the consumption of alcohol by lashing, and theft by the amputation of limbs. Many predominately Muslim countries have not adopted hudud penalties in their criminal justice systems.  The harshest penalties are enforced with varying levels of consistency, in particular stoning, and although most Muslim-majority countries adopt various aspects of Sharia, some countries may only adopt a few aspects, whereas others apply the entire Sharia code. The use of flogging is more common compared to punishments like amputations.

Hung, Drawn and Quartered was from 1352 a statutory penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reign of King Henry III (1216–1272). A convicted traitor was fastened to a hurdle, or wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution, where he was then hanged (almost to the point of death), emasculateddisemboweledbeheaded, and quartered (chopped into four pieces). The traitor's remains were often displayed in prominent places across the country, such as London Bridge. For reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were instead burned at the stake.

Burned at the stake was a legal punishment in England for about 400 years until the 18th century that was inflicted on women found guilty of high treason, petty treason and heresy. Over a period of several centuries, female convicts were publicly burnt at the stake, sometimes alive, for a range of activities including coining and mariticide.

The Guillotine and Beheadings

           "Former King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were executed in 1793 at the outset of the French Revolution. At this time, executions in Paris were carried out in the Place de la Revolution (current Place de la Concorde); the guillotine stood in the corner near the Hôtel Crillon where the statue of Brest can be found today. For a time, executions by guillotine were a popular form of entertainment that attracted great crowds of spectators, with vendors selling programs listing the names of the condemned. But more than popular entertainment alone, during the Reign of Terror, the guillotine symbolized revolutionary ideals: equality in death equivalent to equality before the law, open and demonstrable revolutionary justice, and the destruction of privilege under the Ancien Régime which included separate forms of execution for the nobility. As such, the guillotine was considered a positive force for progress by the Parisian sans-culottes, the popular public face of lower-class patriotic radicalism in the French Revolution.  The guillotine remained France’s standard method of judicial execution until the abolition of capital punishment in 1981. The last person to be executed in France was Hamida Djandoubi, who was guillotined on 10 September 1977."

Mongolian woman condemned to die of starvation on public display.

See:  A brief history of punishments

          Brief history of use of prisons