Like many medieval methods of execution, being hanged, drawn and quartered was a brutal and painful way to die (though not always in that order). English king Henry III was the first one to order such a death during his reign in 1242 after William de Marisco hired an assassin to kill him. The failed assassin was "dragged asunder, then beheaded, and his body divided into three parts; each part was then dragged through one of the principal cities of England, and was afterwards hung on a gibbet used for robbers," while de Marisco was dragged from Westminster to the Tower of London, hanged from a gibbet until dead, disemboweled, his entrails burnt, his body quartered and the parts distributed to cities across the country for display. Due to decency concerns, only men were so killed, and only for heinous crimes against the crown, such as high treason or threats on a monarch's authority (which were essentially the same thing then). Essentially, the pain was supposed to cleanse away the sin, which allowed the condemned to face death with an unstained soul (though often these were botched, and the man killed too quickly). The display of body parts (London Bridge proved popular) served as a warning.
|Sir Thomas Armstrong is quartered in 1684.|
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|This photo by Marco Langbroek in the Netherlands shows three month's difference.|
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