17 Most Brutal Punishments Of The Wild West

Don’t Lose Heart – The Sickening Execution of William Wallace

The execution of Scottish national hero William Wallace was in reality even more lurid and brutal than depicted in Mel Gibson’s famous 1995 biopic.

After he was proud of high treason at Westminster Hall on 23rd August 1305, Wallace was taken outside, stripped naked, attached horizontally to a wooden hurdle, and ‘drawn’ by two horses across the cobbled streets to his place of execution at Smithfield. Along the route, the masses of rowdy Londoners didn’t just throw excrement and pigswill at Wallace as he passed by, oh no – they also cruelly battered him with heavy sticks, lashed him with whips, and got the boot in where they could.

The Scottish knight was barely alive when the horses pulled him into the Elms, Smithfield. Still naked, Wallace was made to climb an especially high scaffold before undergoing the standard half-hanging.

Nearly dead, Wallace was taken down and emasculated (genitals sliced off). This was a typical part of the punishment for high treason for centuries and was not an unusual penalty for other crimes as well. King Henry I of England, for example, summoned some of his moneyers (official minters of coins) to Winchester on Christmas Day, 1125. Here he savagely punished them for making dodgy coins. One by one he had all 94 men emasculated and their right hands cut off.

Next, Wallace had a large, deep opening carved across his stomach. The executioner reached in and pulled out his guts for all to see, before chucking those onto a bonfire. Each organ was removed one by one and shown to the cheering crowd. Wallace would have been alive through much of this process. He was then beheaded and his body cut into four pieces, the bloodied bits being displayed around Britain.

The last person to receive the full horror of this ancient punishment, in use in England from the time of the Normans, was sadly spy David Tyrie in 1782.

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