English Across the Curriculum

The Death Penalty

Execution Methods in the Middle Ages and in Ancient Times

Different forms of execution have dominated civilisations throughout history. Sometimes criminals were strapped to a wheel, where their bones and legs were broken. During the Inquisition of the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church persecuted many non-believers. Especially women, convicted as witches, were burned to death at a stake.

Beheading was a common form of killing in ancient times. The most popular instrument was the guillotine, which decapitated thousands of criminals and innocent civilians during the French Revolution.

In ancient times crucifixion was a widespread method of execution. People were nailed to the cross and died a slow and painful death. It was practised until the 4th century AD. Stoning and beating were also common methods of execution. They are still used in some states of the Middle East and Asia.