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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Question about Public Executions: Hang, Drawn,
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0514  Monday, 17 March 2003

From:           Joe Conlon <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Mar 2003 22:43:09 -0500
Subject:        Question about Public Executions: Hang, Drawn, and Quartered

I teach a high school class and we were talking about the Elizabethan
era execution rituals for being hanged, drawn, and quartered.  As I
understand it, during the quartering part, the condemned's four limbs
were tied to four different horses who were pointed in four different
directions and someone yelled giddyup.  I've read that spectators often
wagered on which horse would wind up with that part of the body which
contained the head.  Today a student asked me if there was any sort of a
standard ritual involved -- for example a black horse went North, white
went South, brown went East and dappled went West or some such.  I've
never thought of that or read anything about it.  I know most executions
and legal proceedings of all sort become quite ritualized after a time.
Does anyone on the list know the answer to this one; or can you point me
to a source that goes into detail on Elizabethan execution rituals?

Joe Conlon
Warsaw Community High School
Warsaw, Indiana, USA

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