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Posthumous execution


Posthumous execution

The posthumous hanging of Gilles van Ledenberg in 1619

Posthumous execution is the ritual or ceremonial mutilation of an already dead body as a punishment.


  • Examples 1
  • Dissection as a punishment in England 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5


  • Nils Dacke, leader of a 16th-century peasant revolt in southern Sweden, was posthumously executed.
  • By order of Mary I, the body of Martin Bucer (1491-1551) was exhumed and burned at the Market Square in Cambridge, England.
  • In 1917, the body of Rasputin, the Russian mystic, was exhumed from the ground by a mob and burned with gasoline.
  • In 1918, the body of Lavr Kornilov, the Russian general, was exhumed by a pro-Bolshevik mob. It was then beaten, trampled and burned.

Dissection as a punishment in England

Some Christians believed that the resurrection of the dead on judgement day requires that the body be buried whole facing east so that the body could rise facing God.[9][10] If dismemberment stopped the possibility of the resurrection of an intact body, then a posthumous execution was an effective way of punishing a criminal.[11][12]

In England Henry VIII granted the annual right to the bodies of four hanged felons. Charles II later increased this to six ... Dissection was now a recognised punishment, a fate worse than death to be added to hanging for the worst offenders. The dissections performed on hanged felons were public: indeed part of the punishment was the delivery from hangman to surgeons at the gallows following public execution, and later public exhibition of the open body itself ... In 1752 an act was passed allowing dissection of all murderers as an alternative to hanging in chains. This was a grisly fate, the tarred body being suspended in a cage until it fell to pieces. The object of this and dissection was to deny a grave ... Dissection was described as 'a further terror and peculiar Mark of Infamy' and 'in no case whatsoever shall the body of any murderer be suffered to be buried'. The rescue, or attempted rescue of the corpse was punishable by transportation for seven years.
—Dr D. R. Johnson, Introductory Anatomy.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 218.
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica
  3. ^ Frusher, J. (2010). "Hanging, Drawing and Quartering: the Anatomy of an Execution". Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  4. ^ Henderson 1897, p. 19.
  5. ^ Juhala 2004.
  6. ^ Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660–1667 (1802), pp. 26–7 House of Commons The attainder was predated to 1 January 1649 (1648 old style year).
  7. ^ Bradshaw, Richard Lee (2010), God's Battleaxe, Xlibris Corporation, pp. 379–381,  
  8. ^,foto.html
  9. ^ Barbara Yorke (2006), The Conversion of Britain Pearson Education, ISBN 0-582-77292-3, ISBN 978-0-582-77292-2. p. 215
  10. ^ Fiona Haslam (1996),From Hogarth to Rowlandson: Medicine in Art in Eighteenth-century Britain,Liverpool University Press, ISBN 0-85323-640-2, ISBN 978-0-85323-640-5 p. 280 (Thomas Rowlandson, " The Resurrection or an Internal View of the Museum in W-D M-LL street on the last day", 1782)
  11. ^ Staff. Resurrection of the Body [dead link], Retrieved 2008-11-17
  12. ^ Mary Abbott (1996). Life Cycles in England, 1560-1720: Cradle to Grave, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-10842-X, 9780415108423. p. 33
  13. ^ Dr D.R.Johnson, Introductory Anatomy , Centre for Human Biology, (now renamed Faculty of Biological Sciences, Leeds University), Retrieved 2008-11-17


  • Juhala, Amy L. (2004). "Ruthven, John, third earl of Gowrie (1577/8–1600)".   (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
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