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death penalty

Guillotine. Source: zef art / Adobe Stock.

Blood and Blades: The Gruesome Reality of Witnessing the Guillotine (Video)

The guillotine - a so-called "humane" killing machine - was used to execute countless individuals during the French Revolution . Its swift, efficient method of death sparked a shift in public...
Man hanging from an execution rope, a very technical method of execution. 	Source: zef art / Adobe Stock

The Gruesome History of Botched Executions

Capital punishment (death by execution) has been a part of human society since time immemorial. Even though it is a practice as old as human civilization, perhaps the most surprising thing about...
Roman executions at the Colosseum were a gruesome affair, as depicted in The Christian Marturs' Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Source: Public domain

Roman Executions in the Colosseum: The Stories of Laureolus and Androcles

Public order in ancient Rome was a priority for the elite, who contrived a range of gruesome punishments for purportedly serious crimes deserving the death penalty. As a result, a day of fun and...
Barbara Erni was a famous con artist in the 1700s whose treacherous trunk trick earned her a reputation, and ultimately an untimely end. Source: Thicha & Andrey Kiselev / Adobe Stock

The Brazen Cons of Barbara Erni and Gregor MacGregor

Throughout our relatively modern history, con artists, thieves, and scammers have been a dime a dozen. In dire times of poverty and lawlessness, shrewd and mischievous people resorted to the world of...
"Ertränken im Fass oder Sack", a 1560 sketch showing ‘punishment of the sack’.

Mythbusting Ancient Rome: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Early Roman history is full of stories about the terrible fates that befell citizens who broke the law. When a certain Tarpeia let the enemy Sabines into Rome, she was crushed and thrown headlong...
16th Century depiction of execution of a prisoner by Ottoman soldiers.

Execution by Elephant: A Gory Method of Capital Punishment

Elephants have played a number of important roles in human history. In some cultures, the elephant is a revered creature. In Buddhism, for example, the vivid dream of Buddha’s mother which foretold...