Archive for Quartered

10 January 1775 – Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachov

Posted in Quartered with tags , , on January 10 by Last Writes

Yemelyan Ivanovich PugachovYemelyan Ivanovich Pugachov was chopped to bits today in 1775 after his attempt to nab the Russian throne resoundingly failed.

Pugachov was executed after he tried to overthrow Catherine II of Russia and blag his way onto the throne. Known as the Cossack Insurrection of 1773–4, his grand plan was to set himself up as ruler, freeing all the Cossacks in the process. And he must have been pretty impressive at blagging it, because he managed to rally a whole army through propaganda and promises of a better life. Not bad seeing as he was born of a humble landowner and a Cossack mother.


His successes were many in the early days. That is until his meteoric rise hit an insurmountable speedbump. The Russian army won a key battle and the insurgents’ seeming invincibility soon crumbled. Thousands of men were wiped out and the remaining troops began to bottle it, so much so that in September 1774, they turned on their former leader.

Ruskies’ revenge

His former allies delivered Pugachov on a plate to the authorities after he tried to leg it to the Urals in order to regroup. Gleefully, the Russians slung him in a cage and shipped him off to Moscow to face the fatal consequences. There the pretender to the throne was publicly quartered in the main square for all to see, aged roughly 35.

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4 July 1597 – Henry Abbot

Posted in Death penalty, Quartered with tags , , , on July 4 by Old Sparky

Bait was used to lure Henry Abbott to his death in the 16th century. And with a name like Abbott, it seems fitting that his crime was religion-based.

A Yorkshire man by birth, Abbott was a Catholic convert at a time when England was in the grip of the Reformation – a break away from Roman Catholicism towards the establishment of the Church of England and Protestantism.

Going underground

Like Margaret Clitherow, he was just trying to practice his religion covertly – that was until the perfect scam artist came along to blow the whole operation wide open.

A dubious Protestant minister had been sent to jail and needed to make amends for his nefarious deeds, so he pretended to his fellow prisoners that he was a convert to the Catholic faith.

On release from jail, the cunning Protestant put it about that he was after a Catholic priest to help him repent – Abbot got wind of his request and agreed to set up the meeting.

Abbott ails

Instead, no sooner than the minister had enough evidence, he betrayed Abbott to the authorities and the poor bloke was arrested, found guilty of hiding a priest and sentenced to die.

Abbot was strung up, then unceremoniously stripped of his nether equipment and quartered in York on 4 July 1597.

Also on this day

4 July 1923 – Rowland Duck

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27 May 1610 – François Ravaillac

Posted in Death penalty, Drawn and quartered with tags , , , , on May 27 by Old Sparky

Francois RavaillacMay’s obviously a popular month to bump off world leaders. And hanging was considered way too quick for today’s candidate – a regicide no less.

For François Ravaillac had assassinated Henry IV, the king of France and a popular man by all accounts.

Vision expressed

He’d had a vision that he had to convince the king to convert Huguenots to Catholicism. Ravaillac tried three times to get an audience with Henry and failed before the next vision kicked in. This time he foresaw that Henry was going to ‘make war with the pope’.

That was it, the zealot couldn’t risk damage to his beloved religion and so he murdered the threat at source – he stabbed Henry as he passed by him in a carriage. The authorities whisked the deranged man off before an angry mob could mobilise, or he would probably have been torn to pieces.

Feeling the heat

And ironically that’s precisely what happened. They dispensed with the hanging in favour of a bout of gruesomely prolonged events that added up to a death reserved only for regicides. Parts of Ravaillac’s flesh were torn off by hot pincers before a variety of hot and boiling substances were anointed from acidic sulphur to the piece de resistance – molten lead. Then blisteringly, bubbling hot oil was poured onto the open wounds. Just to give you an idea of how hot we’re talking, you might like to know that lead melts at 327.5 °C (well over three times the boiling point of water).

So back to the actual execution and the real heavy duty killing – drawing and quartering. But drawing’s not what you’re thinking. OK, so the Brits used blades to disembowel you, but the French had a far more drawn-out method, literally. Each of his four limbs were chained to four horses, which were then encouraged to move off…in four different directions, ultimately tearing the person limb from limb. What was left was then quartered.

In the run-up to his death his bravado knew no bounds, ‘…I have no regrets at all about dying, because I’ve done what I came to do’. Shame Ravaillac hadn’t seen a vision of his own demise – maybe then he would’ve thought twice about carrying out the assassination.

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18 April 1567 – Wilhelm von Grumbach

Posted in Death penalty, Quartered with tags , , on April 18 by Old Sparky

Grumbach, what a great name… So it’s a shame he was dismembered on this day in 1567.

As personalities go, Wilhelm von Grumbach was pretty special. A knight and an adventurer by trade, he was to become a hapless pawn in the power struggle between the Church and the ruling classes in Germany. It kicked off when a bishop reneged on his promised to pay him 10,000 guilders in return for a sterling effort in mediating between two warring factions.

When the money was not forthcoming, Grumbach was offered the sweetener of six villages, but these never materialised either so he started getting a bit narked. The time for negotiation was over. He even grumbled about it to the courts and was so incensed by the whole fiasco that he threatened to beat the priest up. Rightly worried the bishop took out an injunction against him and so they went head to head. Naturally the Kaiser sided with the bishop, but Grumbach wasn’t to be left out in the cold. He had friends too.

Power struggles

According to some German sources, Grumbach’s personal battles with the bishop from hell began morphing into something much bigger – an unholy power struggle between denominations. After all, we’re talking the grip of the Reformation here. Lutherans were the young upstarts emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the ecclesiastical world. And in the blue-blooded corner there was the Catholic Church – the established norm with the all-powerful backing from Rome.

But other sources merely put Grumbach’s struggles down to a battle to end the stranglehold that the all-powerful princes had over the land.

For Grumbach however, this was personal. He served under Albert Alcibiades, Prince of Bayreuth, and under his patronage, Grumbach was able to exact his revenge against the bishop. He ordered that the man of the cloth be slain and that’s precisely what happened.

Prime suspect

Of course, Grumbach maintained his innocence, but no-one believed him. After all, he’d devoted years to the feud. It was no secret that they had had a mutual dislike of each other. So, as a prime suspect, Grumbach had no choice but to scarper to France.

A year later in 1559, he slunk reluctant back to Germany and pleaded his innocence – as if opinions had changed in such a short time. It goes without saying that no-one believed him. But he’d miraculously managed to wheedle his way in to the affections of another patron – John Frederick, the Duke of Saxony.

The duke took Grumbach under his wing and as long as they were in cahoots, Grumbach was to enjoy relative safety. And in return, he promised to help the duke claw back his rightful heritage, which he’d been forced to give up to the Church.

Bach to basics

True to his word, Grumbach steamed on in to Wurzburg and demanded that the Church restore the lands to the duke. And while the little people were battling, the grown-ups were staging a parallel set-to.

Maximillian II was impressively the King of Bohemia, Hungary and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and he turned his attention to John Frederick asking him to withdraw his support for the maverick Grumbach. As if the duke was going to do that, when Grumbach was doing all his dirty work.

Eventually even the duke was condemned and that meant that Grumbach was no longer safe. He was captured in Gotha and promptly handed over to his adversaries. They went to town on him and a fellow ally and there are reports of how the two men were tortured. Apparently their captors cut open their chests and ripped out their still-beating hearts and thrust them in front of the two perpertrators with the words ‘Look Grumbach, your bad heart’.

The 63-year-old was then quartered by way of a sword and to this day the place where he was executed in Gotha is marked.

Also on this day

18 April 1985 – James ‘JB’ Briley
18 April 1930 – Henry Colin Campbell

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11 April 1554 – Thomas Wyatt

Posted in Beheaded, Death penalty, Quartered with tags , , , , on April 11 by Old Sparky

Thomas WyattIf you’ve ever wondered how Bloody Mary earned her nickname, then Thomas Wyatt the younger may hold the answer. Head honcho of an impressive uprising to depose Mary I in favour of her half-sister Elizabeth, Wyatt was executed on this day for treason.

Known creatively as the Wyatt Rebellion of 1554, it was a bid to overthrow the Catholic monarch in favour of her Protestant sister.

Mary was due to marry Felipe, King of Spain, which would have compounded her Catholic bloodline. As a result, the co—conspirators even managed to rope in the French, whose main role was to stop the marriage by preventing Felipe from getting to England. After all, France didn’t want to risk England and Spain uniting against them – they’d have been baguetted between two super-powers, which in that age was not a good move.

Size is everything

As conspiracies go, this wasn’t a disorganised plot. It was just that it was huge. Ridiculous amounts of people were in on the secret, which meant that it was nigh on impossible to remain a secret.

Lady Jane Grey’s dad (he who’d tried to get his daughter installed on the throne) was involved, as were his three brothers, Wyatt’s step-dad and Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, who had illusions of being suitor to Elizabeth once she was safely on the throne, were among the plotters.

Each was to mobilise key counties from the West Country to the Midlands. And therein lay the problem. Courtenay couldn’t be bothered to travel down to Devon, so the West Country was left to Sir Peter Carew, who singularly failed to drum up support.

Weakest link

Meanwhile, Mary’s Lord Chancellor Stephen Gardiner had got wind of the plot and apprehended the cretinous Courtenay who promptly blabbed details of who, where and when. You name it, he divulged it, so the plot was pretty much dead in the water before it had even kicked off.

Most were arrested, leaving Wyatt to see it through single-handedly. And to his credit, he did good, mobilising Kent so effectively that even the French sat up and took notice – two Ambassadors who were visiting at the time were well impressed – glad that he was leading the way so ably. He proved a good leader, undaunted even when the supposed troops from the West Country failed to arrive.

London calling

But the Queen would not be outdone. She heard about his activities and put it about that she would pardon any of the troops who agreed to stand down. Wyatt, on the other hand, was a consummate spin doctor, rallying his men’s spirits and trying to drum up support by blagging that they were winning in other parts of the country.

He managed to amass a hefty force of up to 3,000 men and had he been quicker he may even have taken London. But he paused for a couple of days and in that time, Mary took to the capital where she gave a rousing speech to her people. The bridge spanning the Thames at Southwark was part demolished and fortified against the plotters.

Not to be outdone, Wyatt headed for Kingston. But for the ill-fated English weather, he may even have succeeded. The quagmire meant that it took his men 10 hours to travel 10 miles.

Out on the town

Once they’d crossed the river at Kingston, Wyatt’s men headed through to Acton and on to Knightsbridge, then progressed to Fleet Street heading for Charing Cross. Little did they know that as they advanced they were being barricaded in, so there was no escape… And disaster struck at Charing Cross. When passing through, the Queen’s men cut off the troops bringing up the rear, so Wyatt’s army was dissected.

But he’d made it to Ludgate on the scheduled day, so now it should have been time for his fellow allies to take over from within. Of course, he had no idea that there were no allies from within and with a mere 60 men left to help him in his endeavours, things looked decidedly dodgy for our hero.

Hark the herald

Needless to say, at Temple Bar he was met with opposing troops and they battled before a herald shouted ‘ye may yet find the Queen merciful’. Like a herald had the authority to say that… Still, Wyatt saw this as a lifeline and agreed to turn himself in. But you know Bloody Mary better than that. People had died for less than Wyatt’s actions, so he didn’t have a hope in hell against her wrath.

He was taken to the Tower where he found a whole raft of his former allies. Indeed there were so many involved that the prisoners spilled over into nearby churches, in a time when the gallows went into overdrive.

Head count

It was carnage. Day after day, Mary’s vindictively insatiable wrath enabled the vengeful monarch to literally leave no prisoners. Courtenay was incarcerated on 9 February, and on 10 February 10 men were sentenced, then on the very next day, as many as 80 to 100 hanged-drawn-and-quartered bodies and heads festooned the ramparts of the city. And seeing as Mary was on a roll, she even threw in two other condemned individuals on 12 February, in the shape of Lady Jane Grey and her other half Dudley. Wyatt apparently watched her being carted off.

On 13 February there are details of two strung up at Cheapside, one quartered at Aldgate, one hanged and quartered at Newgate, threesomes hanged at Leadenhall, Holborn, Bermondsey Street, and St George’s, as well as four at Charing Cross. The next day, loads more followed and apparently, after they’d been hanged, they were parboiled, quartered and their remains hanged at Newgate.

Wyatt hurts

Amid this bloodbath, the sentencing kept coming, by fair means and foul. It turns out that Wyatt was tortured on the rack to force him to admit that Elizabeth was somehow connected. Such was Mary’s evil scheming that she was set on finding some way to remove the threat of her little sister swiping the throne from under her. But of course Elizabeth had nothing to do with it and Wyatt held steadfast to the end and never once implicated the soon-to-be successor.

And so we finally end with Wyatt’s execution. After being blindfolded using his hanky, Wyatt laid his head on the block and the executioner took it clean off with one blow. He then held Wyatt’s disembodied head up in front of the crowd and untied the hanky to show them that it was definitely Wyatt who’d been executed.

They then quartered his body and one part was strung up at Mile End, one in Newington, one at Southwark and the last quarter at Old Kent Road (St Thomas of Waterings). His head was skewered at Tyburn, but six days after his death it was stolen, maybe by fans as a keepsake, and never recovered.

Also on this (jumbo death) day

11 April 1947 – Louise Peete
11 April 1612 – Edward Wightman
11 April 1916 – Ludovico Zender
11 April 1922 – Frederick Keeling

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