I've been having another look at hanging, drawing and quartering because of a comment Max made yesterday when she said she'd thought the quartering...or being dismembered ...was done by pulling the body apart by horses. So as I wasn't altogether sure I looked it up and found it was done by horses in America by the Natives Americans on occasions but in England it was always by an axe or in one mans case, with a small surgeons knife...

What is interesting is the Mediaeval reasoning behind what was an incredibly cruel punishment....it was thought that 'treasonous thoughts and ideas' were contained in the belly...by cutting out the stomachs contents and burning them, those treasonous thoughts would be dispelled forever...

The dismemberment or cutting off the limbs, was a certain way to ensure the victim would never have an everlasting life....there was a firm belief your body had to be whole before entrance to Heaven at the Last Judgement...

Cutting off the head removed the last vestige of what made you a person...

You were also emasculated...there again in the Mediaeval mind-set you would be deprived of your 'privy parts ' in order to remind you that your lineage had died from that moment...

Limbs were frequently sent to different cities to be displayed in public as a reminder to the populace that traitors were dealt with harshly...and also because people liked to see them...

The head was placed on a pike and carried to London where it's arrival was greeted by a fanfare of drums and horns before it was placed on London Bridge to join the other heads already in place...there it would rot away...

Women were never subjected to hanging,drawing and quartering...it was thought highly indecent to expose a womans body...they were burned at the stake instead. There is a small comfort to be had from the fact that the executioner usually strangled the woman to death before he set the fire...

There were huge attendances at hangings...and especially if it were a traitor to the Throne...the gibbet was built very high...when Hugh De Dispenser was hung,drawn and quartered the scaffold was said to have been fifty feet tall and could only be reached by ladders...this was done ensure the public had a good view of everything which happened. The cauldron to contain the entrails was placed on a small platform on top of a fire so the crowd was able to see...as well as the prisoner...by this time shackled to a hurdle propped upright...the better for the executioner to disembowel him...

It was extremely cruel...and disturbing to us...but we have chemical warfare and drones and our armies kill children either accidently or on purpose...we convive and plot and scheme...sell arms to our sworn enemies...support vicious war lords and humiliate and torture people because they are suspected terrorists...

It is probably unwise to despise and condemm the Mediaeval way until the day we are peaceable and loving people who accept others without qualification...