When pondering the horrible violence of the Vikings, consider the oh so refined civility of the English in the 1700s – part 7

Swinging from the rope was only the second of five painful steps used by the English to punish High Treason in the 1700s. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Yes, we all know the Vikings were horrible, terrible brutes.

Consider the ‘blood eagle’ form of execution. Quite an astounding way to slowly kill someone while imposing exquisite pain.

As you consider that idea, compare those nasty Vikings to the so very civilized and refined and cultured English of the 1770s.

Page 23 of Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, contains a vivid description of the punishment awaiting anyone convicted of High Treason. I’ll paraphrase:

Such a terrible, horrible person would first be dragged to the gallows by a horse. Then the condemned soul would be hung by the neck, but not until dead. No, the executioner made sure a lot of life was left for several additional steps.

Next would follow cutting open the abdomen, allowing the fellow’s intestines to fall out on the ground. The person is still alive, but in quite exquisite pain. (It turns out this form of public humiliation, torture, and execution was not in fact invented by the Viet Cong during the American war in Vietnam; the innovative Brits figured it out a couple of centuries earlier.)

At this point the intestines would be placed over a fire and roasted, while the person was still alive.

Only after having his guts cooked for a while would the suffering fellow have his head cut off.

The punishment did not stop after the miscreant was dead. Oh no, not quite.

The body would be cut into four pieces with the parts delivered to the King, so he could see firsthand that the person was in fact quite dead.  (Not sure how the quartering part would go. I’m guessing since the head was already removed that each leg would be cut off, thus producing four quarters.)

Oh, and then the condemned would have all his property and wealth confiscated.

Finally, the text informs us that the surviving wife and children would be prohibited from every again owning land or running a business. That would reduce the survivors to a state of hired farm workers or common laborers.

Such would have been the fate of all the brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence, along with George Washington and most of the American generals if the U.S. had lost our war for independence.

In terms of raw brutality, sure looks to me like the Vikings in the 900s had nothing on the English in the 1770s.

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