Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Punishment by Mutilation

Mutilation as Punishment

Baring-Gould, Sabine (1896). 
Curiosities of olden times: Strange pains and penalties pp 89-101

Benjamin Thorpe (1840). Ancient laws and institutes of England  G.E. Eyre and A. Spottiswoode. pp. 49–.

The Laws of William the Conqueror

xvii. Interdicimus eciam ne quis occidatur vel suspendatur pro aliqua culpa, sed enerventur oculi, et abscindantur pedes, vel testiculi, vel manus, ita quod truncus remaneat vivus, in signum prodicionis et nequicie sue: secundum enim quantitatem delicti debet poena maleficis infligi. Ista precepta non sint violata super forisfacturam nostram plenam. Testibus, etc.

xvii. We forbid also that any man be put to death or hanged for any crime, but that he should be have his eyes extricated, and even have his feet cut off, and/or his testicles, and/or his hands, so that all that would be left of him would be a living trunk, as a representation of his acts of treason and villainy: indeed the penalty to criminals should be in accordance with the magnitude of their crimes. These laws are not to be violated, without making full restitution to us. Witnesses, etc..

Rogerus (de Hoveden) (1869). Chronica. Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. pp. 29–.

Select charters and other illustrations of English constitutional history, from the earliest times to the reign of Edward the First.

Ernest F. Henderson  "Statutes of William the Conqueror"Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages. The Minerva Group, Inc. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-1-4102-1544-4.

Another law bears more than all the personal impress of William. In it he at once, on one side, forestalls the most humane theories of modern times, and on the other sins most directly against them. His remarkable unwillingness to put any man to death, except among the chances of the battle-field, was to some extent the feeling of his age. With him the feeling takes the shape of a formal law. He forbids the infliction of death for any crime whatever. But those who may on this score be disposed to claim the Conqueror as a sympathizer will be shocked at the next enactment. Those crimes which kings less merciful than William would have punished with death are to be punished with loss of eyes or other foul and cruel mutilations. Punishments of this kind now seem more revolting than death, though possibly, now as then, the sufferer himself might think otherwise. But in those days to substitute mutilation for death, in the case of crimes which were held to deserve death, was universally deemed an act of mercy.


Royal Acts of Mutilation: The Case against Henry I
C. Warren Hollister
Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies
Vol. 10, No. 4 (Winter, 1978), pp. 330-340
Article Stable URL:

Suzanne Conklin Akbari; Jill Ross (29 January 2013). The Ends of the Body: Identity and Community in Medieval Culture. University of Toronto Press. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-1-4426-6139-4.
WESTERHOF, D. (2013). Amputating the Traitor: Healing the Social Body in Public Executions for Treason in Late Medieval England. In AKBARI S. & ROSS J. (Eds.), The Ends of the Body: Identity and Community in Medieval Culture (pp. 177-192). University of Toronto Press. Retrieved from

Van Eickels, Klaus
Gendered Violence: Castration and Blinding as Punishment for Treason in Normandy and Anglo-Norman England
Gender & History  Volume 16Issue 3, pages 588–602, November 2004

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