Within the opened chapters of my book, Burning Blood, the witch Aurelia finds herself around to be melted at the stake.

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‘Witch, you have actually been tried and also convicted under the benevolent will of God. You are a consort the Satan and also shall burn at the stake. Repent now and God may have actually mercy on your soul. Fail to repent and you shall writhe on that stake just as you shall writhe because that eternity in the pits the Hell!’

The rough rope grazed she neck as it tightened, all set to take away she breath and leave nothing however an empty shell to chef in the flames. The cross danced in prior of her face, through Christ’s tortured human body hanging limply ~ above it, the crown that thorns cutting painfully right into his forehead.

‘Bring the flames and also let the be the finish of it,’ she intoned, she voice cutting v the rabble’s clamouring.

But while we all understand witches acquire burned, what else do we know about this horrific an approach of execution and also the human being condemned to suffer it?

1. It to be a punishment especially concerned with the ladies

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While heretics and witches were regularly destined for the wash and clean flames, females committed of an especially heinous crimes, like killing your husbands or high treason, to be bound because that the stake due to the fact that it was said to defend their modesty. Teacher William Blackstone, at the time, phrased it, ‘for the decency as result of the sex forbids exposing in public mangling your bodies.’ Men? The hangman’s noose and the disemboweller’s knife were perfectly fine because that them but the women were destined for the demure nature the the fire.

2. Not everyone to be alive once they burned

The condemned woman would certainly be bound to the stake v a rope or chain roughly their neck, or positioned top top a stool. The fire would certainly be lit but prior to it caused any kind of harm, the noose or chain would be tightened, or the stool kicked away, and she would be strangled prior to the fire got hold that her. In part instances, the executioner would likewise deliver a couple of strikes come her chest to hasten her demise. Not everyone was so fortunate, however.

In the instance of Catherine Hayes, executed on 9 may 1726, the fire ignited much quicker than expected and also the executioner to be unable to strangle she in time. She writhed in agony and much more faggots to be thrown on come the fire to speed the process. It take it three hrs for she body to rotate to ash, despite there’s no telling how long it take it for she to die.

3. Part went out through a bang

As a merciful consolation come some males who to be being burned at the stake (mostly heretics), lock were provided bags of gunpowder come tie in between their legs and under each arm. Those lucky sufficient to have well-lit fires quickly met an explosive end, on the other hand others weren’t so fortunate. As soon as the lumber was too environment-friendly or the wind also strong, the men would regularly writhe for rather some time prior to a beneficial soul or the right leap of flame carried an finish to your agony.

4. Burn at the stake didn’t go out of fashion every that lengthy ago

St Alban was one of the first notable world to be shed at the stake, and that took place in advertisement 304. The exercise then delighted in a long duration of fervent approval together a technique for dealing with heretics, witches and other species of people, but if you thought it was just a medieval practice, you will do be wrong.

While the last guy to be burned alive because that heresy in England, Edward Wightman, was executed in 1612, a witch was burned at the stake in 1708. And also to the country’s north, Rebecca Downing was burned alive in Scotland in 1782 because that poisoning she master. The last woman to die in together a way (in Scotland) to be Christine Murphy, who died on 18 in march 1789. And finally, a Jew was melted (by the Spanish Inquisition) in Spain in 1826. It is not also 200 year ago!

5. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition

Individual burnings together a punishment, while horrific, pale right into comparison with the widespread conflagrations the the Spanish Inquisition gleefully ignited throughout Europe. Concerned mostly through heretics (of the roman inn Catholic faith), castle would frequently burn the victim on festival days, providing as plenty of stakes together there were world to tie castle to.

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The ones who confessed and also repented to be strangled (there to be no pardoning here) before being burned, while the recalcitrant ones had actually to writhe in agony to the jeering of the crowd. Unfortunately these live victims regularly were positioned also high over the flames and were because of this roasted quite than melted to death.

So insane was the Spanish Inquisition, it condemned the entire country of The Netherlands to fatality in 1568. While it obviously walk not finish its punishment, eight hundred civilization were still melted to death or hanged in the an initial week. Talk around mad!

Source: Execution: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the thousands Cuts, the Spanish Donkey and 66 Other ways of putting Someone come Death, Geoffrey Abbott