Hanging Drawing And Quartering
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Basic Information

Hanging, Drawing and Quartering is a deliberately and impressively inhumane form of execution used in pre-modern times by authorities with a point to make. There are various versions of the punishment, some of which go into more detail than others but the general plan is as follows:

  1. The condemned is subjected to a short-drop hanging.
  2. Whilst this in progress, the executioner performs a more or less detailed series of mutilations, often including castration, which culminate in the condemned's intestines and other internal organs being cut out of their body (this is known as "drawing" the condemned, related to the similar term in butchery), displayed to spectators and then burned.
  3. Following the drawing, the condemned - who is usually, but not always dead by now - is sawn into quarters, which may then be preserved for some form of public display.

Details were frequently added to the drawing stage, and some jurisdictions made other substitutions (the Germans seemed to prefer breaking on the wheel to hanging, as in the execution of Peter Niers), but the point was generally to ensure a grisly and exemplary public death.

As a top end punishment, this was usually reserved for treason and other particularly serious offences, although nobles were traditionally exempt and subject only to beheading.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A PC with legal authority may be in a position where they are required to order - or even carry out - such a sentence.
  • Also amusing background colour when they happen to be passing through a town.
  • PCs who bring bounty-targets in alive may find themselves as guests of honour at such an execution, perhaps even "invited" to take a hand in the drawing with a baying crowd urging them on.
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