Monday, October 24, 2011

Famous Beheadings

I have never understood why they call it "beheading." Shouldn't it be "deheading"?

Here are some famous decapitations:

Medusa: In Greek mythology she was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. This moment is immortalized by the fabulous painting by Caravaggio.

Anne Boleyn: Second wife of King Henry VIII of England and mother of the future Queen Elizabeth, this person was beheaded on May 19, 1536, after being convicted of adultery. Anne was beheaded by a swordsman rather than an axeman her execution was delayed because an executioner specialising in this method had to be delivered from France. It was reported that her lips continued moving in prayer even after the decapitation.

Louis XVI: Former king of France and married to Marie Antoinette, this monarch was guillotined in 1793 after being found to conspire against the First French Republic (proclaimed four months earlier. His dignified bearing right up until the moment of execution was said to have awed many, including the executioner himself.

Queen Marie Antoinette: Guillotined by Revolutionaries.

King Charles: Executed by parliamentarian "Roundheads" during the English Civil War in 1618.

Mary Queen of Scots: Tt took two strikes to decapitate Mary: The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head, at which point the Queen's lips moved (her servants reported they thought she had whispered the words "Sweet Jesus."). The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew that the executioner severed by using the axe as a saw. Robert Wynkfield recorded a detailed account of the moments leading up to Mary's execution, also describing that it took two strikes to behead the queen. Afterward, the executioner held her head aloft and declared, "God save the Queen." At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand came apart and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had had very short, grey hair.

Lady Jane Grey: 8 February 1554-The executioner knelt and asked for Jane's forgiveness, which she gave 'most willingly.' There followed a five minute silence, whereby officials await a last-minute reprieve from the Monarch. The executioner then told Jane where to stand. She replied, 'I pray you dispatch me quickly.' She began to kneel, then hesitated and said, 'Will you take it off before I lay me down?' The executioner answered, 'No madame.' Jane then tied the handkerchief around her eyes. Unable to locate the block, she became anxious, 'Where is it? What shall I do? Where is it?' she asked, her voice faltering. Those who stood upon the scaffold seemed unsure of what to do. 'One of the standers by' climbed the scaffold and helped her to the block. Her last words were, 'Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'

Sir Walter Raleigh: Raleigh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster on 29 October 1618. "Let us dispatch", he said to his executioner. "At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear." After he was allowed to see the axe that would behead him, he mused: "This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all diseases and miseries." According to many biographers, Sir Walter's final words (as he lay ready for the axe to fall) were: "Strike, man, strike!"

Marc Bolan: Lead singer and guitarist for the British Glam band, T.Rex. Bolan died on 16 September 1977, two weeks before his 30th birthday. He was a passenger in a purple Mini 1275GT (registration FOX 661L) driven by Gloria Jones as they headed home from Mortons drinking club and restaurant in Berkeley Square. Jones lost control of the car and it struck a sycamore tree after failing to negotiate a small humpback bridge near Gipsy Lane on Queens Ride, Barnes, southwest London.

Jane Mansfield, Actress: Rumors that Mansfield was decapitated are untrue, though she did suffer severe head trauma in a car crash. This urban legend was spawned by the appearance in police photographs of a crashed automobile with its top virtually sheared off, and what resembles a blonde-haired head tangled in the car's smashed windshield. It is believed this was either a wig Mansfield was wearing or was her actual hair and scalp.The death certificate stated the immediate cause of Mansfield's death was a "crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain."

Daniel Pearl: February 1, 2002 an American journalist who was kidnapped and decapitated by Al-Qaeda.

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