Horrible Histories

In response to Mike's inquiry on the home page regarding the sentence imposed on a certain Mr. John Johnson back in 1606, we on The Horrible History Team have to inform him that the sentence for high treason was always carried out in all its gory details and mere death was considered no excuse for avoiding any of them. Mr. Johnson's body was therefore accorded no special treatment on account of the fact he had already ceased to breathe although we imagine the ordeal of quartering must have been somewhat easier for him to bear than it was for those of his more unfortunate co-conspirators who had to endure it all while still living.

Mike and co will no doubt be relieved to hear that, for the sake of public decency, treasonous ladies and their body parts were spared such grisly and undignified proceedings. They were burned at the stake instead.

However, things did progress as time passed and by the beginning of the 19th century, the hangman was content for the condemned person to finish strangling to death before proceeding with the rest of the sentence. It was not until 1870 that the sentence for treason was reduced to hanging only and not until 1998 that it disappeared off the statute books once and for all courtesy of good ol' Tony Blair. How unhorrible we've become compared to our forebears!

Isn't history fascinating, even the horrible bits?

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