The Performance of Death – the Proceedings of the Execution of the English’s Elites in the 16th and 17th Century


  • Magdalena Makówka University of Lodz (Uniwersytet Łódzki)


execution, executioner, England


The aim of this article is to present the path of a convicted person from a conviction to the execution of a sentence in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. The public was particularly interested in their trials and executions. Often, the issue of a death sentence was based on political motives and it affected, for example, former advisors of the king who had stopped to enjoy the graces of the ruling monarch. The analysis focuses primarily on social elites. Aspects of execution, including the execution method, the time and clothing of the convict, and his last words, are discussed in the article. The methods of execution were outlined, taking into account that some crimes correspond with specific methods of administering the death penalty. It was most common practice to behead the heads of aristocratic convicts. There were, however, instances when the qualified death penalty was applied. I also analyzed in this study the content of the last speeches delivered by the convicts. They provide insight into how the litter penalty has been perceived in society. Also, they show whether the convicts agreed with the sentence or opposed it. Included in the narrative are the last moments of the convict, as well as his interactions with the executioner. The sources of this thesis are the correspondence, chronicles and the paper published in the 16th and 17th century. The amount of published materials concerning the executions shows the interesting in that subject in English society.


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How to Cite

Makówka, M. (2021). The Performance of Death – the Proceedings of the Execution of the English’s Elites in the 16th and 17th Century. Miscellanea Historico-Iuridica, 20(1), 139–154. Retrieved from