The Performance of Death – the Proceedings of the Execution of the English’s Elites in the 16th and 17th Century
Keywords: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.
Calendar of State Papers, Spain, vol. 6, London 1890.
Der Kayserlichen und Königlichen Stadt Breßlaw Execution Ordnung, Oder Hülffs-process, Bresslau 1626.
Foxe J., The Acts and Monuments, London 1583.
Guaras de A., The accesion of queen Mary, ed. By R. Garnett, London 1892.
Hall E., Hall's chronicle : containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550, London 1809.
Holished R., The chronicle of England, Scotland and Ireland, Vol. 6, London 1587.
King Charles his speech made upon the scaffold at Whitehall Gate, immadiately before his execution on Tuesday the 30 of Jan. 1648 with relations of the manner of his going to execution, London 1649.
Stow J., Annals of England to 1603, London 1603.
The behaviour and execution of Robert Green and Laurence Hill who suffered at Tyburn on Friday, February 1679, London 1679.
The Chronicle of Calais In the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII to the Year 1540, ed. By J. Nichols, London 1831.
The chronicle of Edward VI, ed. By W. J. Jordan, London 2005.
The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary, ed. J. G. Nichols, London 1850.
The Last Speeches of Thomas Wentworth, Late Earle of Strafford, and Deputy of Ireland: The One in the Tovver, the Other on the Scaffold on Tower-Hill, May the Twelfth 1641 : Together with His Deportment Before and at the End of His Execution, London 1641.
The several speeches of duke Hamilton Earl of Cambridg, Henry Earl of Holland and Arthur lord Capel upon the scaffold, London 1649.
The trial of the valiant and learned sir Walter Raleigh, knight eith his tryal at Winchester, London 1677.
Baker J.K., An Introduction to English Legal History, London 1978.
Brooks Ch., Law, Politics and Society in Early Modern England, London 2009.
Campbell R., Sentence of death by burning for women, „The Journal of Legal History” 1984, vol. 5, No 1.
Fleck, "At the time of his death": Manuscript Instability and Walter Ralegh's Performance on the Scaffold, „Journal of British Studies”2009, vol. 48, No. 1.
Graham R., Niezawiniona tragedia Marii Stuart, Warszawa 2009.
Gulczyński A., Stanowisko prawne poznańskiego kata w świetle umów zawieranych z miastem w XVII i XVIII wieku, [w:] Studia z historii ustroju i prawa. Księga dedykowana Jerzemu Walachowiczowi, red. H. Olszewski, Poznań 2002
Hibbert C., Charles I, London 1968.
Hooper W., The Tudor Sumptuary Laws,”The English Historical Review” 1915, vol. 30, No. 119.
Ives E., Życie i śmierć Anny Boleyn, Kraków 2012.
Kesselring J., Mercy and authority in the Tudor State, Cambridge 2003.
Klemp P. J., ‘I have been bred upon the Theatre of death, and have learned that part’: The Execution Ritual during the English Revolution, „The Seventeenth Century” 2011, vol. 26, No. 2.
Kubińska O., Przybyłem tu by umrzeć, Gdańsk 2013.
Kubińska O., Retoryka umierania, Gdańsk 2016.
Langston B., Essex and the Art of Dying, „Huntington Library Quarterly” 1950, vol. 13, No. 2.
Lisle de L., The sister who would be Queen. The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and lady Jane Grey, London 2009.
Loades D., John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, London 1996.
Merback M., The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel: Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Chicago 1998.
Pacholec M., Kat jako członek społeczności miejskiej w Rzeczypospolitej w XVI-XVIII w, „Meritum” 2009.
Redmont S., Staging Executions: The Theater of Punishment in Early Modern England, Florida 2007.
Robin A., The Executioner: His Place in English Society, „The British Journal of Sociology” 1964, vol. 15, No. 3.
Sharpe J., "Last Dying Speeches": Religion, Ideology and Public Execution in Seventeenth-Century England, „Past and Present” 1985, No. 107.
Smith P., Executing Executions: Aesthetics, Identity, and the Problematic Narratives of Capital Punishment Ritual, „Theory and Society” 1966, vol. 25, No. 2.
Trevelyan R., Sir Walter Raleigh, New York 2009.
Weir A., The lady in the Tower, London 2010.
Zaremska H., Niegodne rzemiosło. Kat w społeczeństwie Polski XIV-XVI w., Warszawa 1986.