Posthumous execution

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Posthumous execution is the ritual or ceremonial execution of an already dead body.


[edit] Examples

[edit] Dissection as a punishment in England

Formerly, many Christians believed that the resurrection of the dead on judgement day required that the body be buried whole facing east so that the body could rise facing God.[4][5] If dismemberment stopped the possibility of the resurrection of an intact body, then a posthumous execution was an effective way of punishing a criminal.[6][7]

In England Henry VIII granted the annual right to the bodies of four hanged felons. Charles II later increased this to six . Now bodies had to come from somewhere, but the conjoining of anatomy and hanging offences was very bad news, and the basis of an association which lasted until the first Anatomy act in 1832. 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. The punishment replaced the earlier hanging drawing and quartering, in which the four quarters were exhibited on spikes in various parts of the city, and differed only in that it was performed by medical men, and, incidentally that anatomical knowledge was obtained. This state of affairs was accepted by surgeons because it was, oddly, good for their image to achieve royal patronage and to be linked with the law. ... 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. After the act the number of available bodies increased, and the act itself was pro anatomy in that the execution had to follow smartly upon conviction, and the body conveyed immediately to the surgeons. 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.[8]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. ^ Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660–1667 (1802), pp. 26-7 House of Commons Attainder predated to 1 January 1649 (It is 1648 in the document because of old style year)
  3. ^ Cambridgeshire Museums Online
  4. ^ Barbara Yorke (2006), The Conversion of Britain Pearson Education, ISBN 0582772923, 9780582772922. p. 215
  5. ^ Fiona Haslam (1996),From Hogarth to Rowlandson: Medicine in Art in Eighteenth-century Britain,Liverpool University Press, ISBN 0853236402, 9780853236405 p. 280 (Thomas Rowlandson, "The Resurrection or an Internal View of the Museum in W-D M-LL street on the last day", 1782)
  6. ^ Staff. Resurrection of the Body Catholic Answers, Retrieved 2008-11-17
  7. ^ Mary Abbott (1996). Life Cycles in England, 1560-1720: Cradle to Grave, Routledge, ISBN 041510842X, 9780415108423. p. 33
  8. ^ Dr D.R.Johnson, Introductory Anatomy , Centre for Human Biology, (now renamed Faculty of Biological Sciences, Leeds University), Retrieved 2008-11-17
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