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Main page » Fiction literature » Female Executions

Female Executions


Martyrs, Murderesses and Madwomen
Appendix 1: Types of Torture
Appendix 2: Types of Punishment and Execution


The Law, in its wisdom, did not differentiate between men and women when it came to passing sentence of death on those found guilty of capital offences, and so in these pages you will read how, in some countries, many women were first tortured on the rack, in the boots, by the bridle, the water torture or the thumbscrews. They were whipped and exposed to public humiliation in the pillory; they died by the rope, axe, and sword; by the electric chair, the gas chamber, the firing squad; by being pressed beneath heavy weights or boiled to death, by lethal injection or burned at the stake; by being drowned, or beheaded by the guillotine or Scottish Maiden. Nor, afterwards, were they all given a decent burial; some were dissected, others skinned to provide bizarre souvenirs. A few, such as Margaret Clitheroe and Alice Lisle, were martyrs; some, such as Marie Brinvilliers and Mary Ann Cotton, were serial murderesses; others, like Elizabeth Barton and Mary MacLauchlan, were mentally unbalanced and, in more civilised times, would instead have been given the necessary psychiatric treatment. Some executions were botched either by the executioners or by the equipment involved, yet despite the appalling ordeal they faced, some women were incredibly brave, some resigned to their fate; a few fought with the executioner, others were hysterical or in a state of collapse; some indeed were totally innocent, yet nevertheless were put to death. But even the Law with all its sombre overtones has its lighter side, and so the cases are interspersed with quirky quotes.

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Tags: Executions, gallows, empty, coffin, whosurvived