50 Most Horrible Executions The Humanity Has Witnessed

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1Mazzatello

Mazzatello was a method of execution wherein the head of the condemned was smashed with a huge mallet. It is one of the most brutal methods of execution ever devised, requiring minimal skill on the part of the executioner and superhuman acquiescence by the victim. This method of execution was reserved for crimes that were considered "especially loathsome."


2. Burning at the stake as a method of execution has been practiced since Babylonia and ancient Israel and was later adopted in Europe and North America. Bags of gunpowder were sometimes tied around the victim's necks to shorten their suffering.


3. After trying to assassinate the king, Robert-François Damiens was sentenced to be executed by having his skin ripped with pliers, molten lead and sulfur poured onto his ripped skin, then dismemberment by four horses. At hearing this, Damiens replied, "Well, it's going to be a tough day." Several texts recount with extreme precision all the horror of his execution in 1757.


4. William Burke was a Scottish murderer who sold corpses for a profit to medical researchers. After he was hanged for his crimes, scientists dissected him, wrote with his blood, and bound a book with his skin.


5. Balthasar Gerard was the leader of the Dutch revolt, who assassinated King William III of England in 1584. For his crimes, he was put on trial and later executed in an extremely gruesome manner. Aside from the standard beheading, his hands were burned off, his feet were crushed, he was disemboweled alive, quartered, and his heart was ripped out and thrown at his face.


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6Gao Qi's Execution

In 1734, a Ming dynasty poet named Gao Qi was criticized for his political satire and was therefore accused of being involved in a "rebellion conspiracy." He was sentenced to be executed by being chopped into eight parts. After being cut in two at the waist, he remained alive long enough to write with his own blood, this Chinese character 慘, which translates to "horrible.” He wrote it 7 times before dying. After hearing this, the Emperor abolished this form of execution.


7. The drownings at Nantes during the French Revolution was dubbed “The National Bathtub.” More than 4000 suspected royalists which included men, women, and children were shipped off in boats and executed by being thrown in the river. At first, the perpetrators carried out the drownings at night to avoid suspicion, but the dozens of floating bodies in the following days gave them away.


8. Jacopo de' Pazzi was the head of the noble Pazzi family in Florence. In 1478 he conspired with some of his family members to overthrow the Medici family, who were the rulers of Florence. After a failed coup attempt, he was dragged from his home and hanged for the conspiracy. After being buried, his body was dug up, thrown in a ditch, dragged around and propped on his front door, where his head was mockingly used as a door knocker. After that, his body was thrown into a river, where it was retrieved by children, hung from a tree, flogged, and thrown back into the river.


9. When Peter I of Portugal was still a prince, he fell in love with his wife's maid, Inês de Castro. After his wife died, his father, King Afonso IV, desired him to remarry but not to Inês. Pedro refused; so, the King had Inês killed. Shortly after, King Afonso died and later when Pedro became the king, he conducted a public trial of the men who murdered Ines. After finding them guilty of her murder, King Pedro ripped their hearts out with his own hands, because of what they had done to his own heart.


10. Ibrahim II was the Emir of Ifriqiya. He gained the reputation of being not only a tyrant, but he was also a homicidal sadist. He took great pleasure in cruelty and killing and often conducted executions personally. Once upon discovering during a dinner that a napkin had been mislaid, he ordered execution of 300 of his palace servants. He executed eight brothers and his own son on a vague suspicion. He had several of his wives executed by strangulation, immurement, dismemberment and other means. He ordered the execution of every one of his daughters upon birth. When he learned that sixteen of his daughters had escaped death and had grown to adulthood, he invited them to a reception, greeted them kindly, and then beheaded all of them.


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11Saint Lawrence's Execution

Saint Lawrence was executed on a giant grill for distributing Roman Church’s treasure to the poor people of Rome. While he was being executed he screamed "I'm well done. Turn me over!" From this St. Lawrence derives his patronage of cooks, chefs, and comedians.


12. In 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in the USA for conspiring to pass atomic secrets to Russia. Ethel Rosenberg's execution however did not go smoothly. After she was given three electric shocks, attendants removed the strapping only to have doctors determine that Ethel's heart was still beating. Two more electric shocks were applied, and eyewitnesses reported that smoke rose from her head.


13. The corpses of Mussolini and his mistress were beaten and urinated upon and finally left to hang upside down, for public display, from a rusty beam outside a petrol station.


14. The Americans botched the hanging of the Nazi Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel. The trapdoor was too small and he smashed his head going down, and the force didn't break his neck so it took a full 24 minutes for him to suffocate.


15. Mansur al-Hallaj was an early Persian mystic who was condemned for heresy on account of his ecstatic utterances of "I am the Truth," or "I am God.” In fact, he kept repeating "I am the Truth" as they kept cutting his arms, legs, tongue, and finally his head. He was smiling, even as they chopped off his head.


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16Romanov Family Execution

When the Russian Imperial Romanov Family was executed in 1918, the daughters Tatiana, Anastasia, and Maria survived the initial gunfire because they had over 1.3 kilograms (2.9 pounds) of diamonds sewn into their clothing, which the bullets ricocheted off. They were subsequently killed with bayonets.


17. When Jesse Tafero was electrocuted in Florida in 1990 for the murder of two police officers, his head burst into flames. After three jolts, he eventually stopped breathing. Officials blamed the use of a synthetic sponge (in place of a natural one) for the botched execution.


18. In 1752, a man named Ewen MacDonald was hanged but he regained consciousness after being taken to the dissection theatre. When the surgeon who was meant to dissect his body discovered the supposedly dead man sitting upright on the operating table, he promptly bludgeoned MacDonald to death with a mallet.


19. In 1567, a cook was caught stealing silverware from his employer and was sentenced to be hanged. Instead of this, he agreed to be poisoned to test the effects of bezoars (stones that were thought to cure poisons) and go free if he survived. He died in agony 7 hours after being poisoned.


20. In the 13th century, Frederick II of Germany fed two men most excellently at dinner, sent one to bed, and sent the other out to hunt. Hours later, he had them both disemboweled to see who had digested his food better.


21Gilles De Rais

Gilles De Rais was a 15th-century French nobleman who had his servants lure hundreds of poor street children into his castle where he would decapitate them and sodomize the resulting hole (among other things) because he "disdained his victims' sexual organs."


22. Italian serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli chopped up her victims with an axe and turned them into soap and tea cakes.


23. Consort Qi was a Chinese concubine who bore the Emperor a son whom he seemed to favor over his son from his queen. Enraged by this, the empress proceeded to torture Qi, chopped her limbs off, gouged her eyes out, cut off all of her facial features, forced her to drink a potion that made her mute, threw her into a latrine and then locked her in a pigsty until she died. She called her a “human swine.”


24. Son of Saddam Hussein, Uday Hussein, was named Chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee in 1984. Athletes who disappointed him were subject to torture and imprisonment. His own dad jailed him for six months after he murdered Saddam's favorite chef in a psychotic rage. Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, who witnessed some of Uday's antics, described him as a "psychopath." He was also known to bring kidnapped girls to his home, rape them and then have them torn to shreds by dogs for his and his friend's entertainment.


25. Guy Fawkes was hung, gutted, and tortured for his plans to blow up the English parliament. He was caught red-handed after an anonymous tip-off. He was tortured to reveal his co-conspirators after which he was executed and his body parts were paraded around London.

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