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Author Topic: Are most of Europe's executioners related.
skeptic
Deck the Malls


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I have heard a few times that the majority of executioners in Europe are all related to each other, going back many generations.
Someone once remarked that their bloodline is longer than the royal families.
Any truth in this.

Denis "You ketch 'em, I'll stretch 'em".

PS. edited later. Execution is outlawed in all of the European Union now, but I'm referring to the past history up to the mid 20th century.

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I like free speech. It lets me know who the idiots are.

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lynnejanet
Happy Holly Days


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There are executioners in Europe?

Who do they execute? Why?

ETA: Sorry - I didn't mean to come across as snarky. It was a legitimate question.

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lynne"insert appropriate punny phrase here"janet

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skeptic
Deck the Malls


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Yes, sorry, you are right. Executions are banned in all parts of the European Union, but I was referring to the past, from the middle ages up to the mid 20th century.

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I like free speech. It lets me know who the idiots are.

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Gerard Morvan
Deck the Malls


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Well, given that nobody in the early days wanted to marry the offspring of an executioner, the families had to intermarry to some degrees. In France, the two most famous dynasties were the Samson (one of them cut King Louis XVI's head), and the Deibler (and they were related).

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Shadowduck
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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So far as I'm aware there aren't any European countries (certainly none of the European Union ones) that still have the death penalty on the books, so it doesn't seem likely to be true in the present tense.

Abolition of the death penalty is a requirement for countries seeking EU membership.

Possibly this is loosely based on the Pierrepoints , three executioners from the same British family in the first half of the 1900s.

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But of course, I could be wrong.

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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There were the Pierrepoints, but they were only in the business for half a century.

In the medieval ages it would make sense to me that the art of execution would be a family business in the same way blacksmithing or tanning would be. But I doubt the line went unbroken for centuries.

ETA-Spanked by Shadowduck. Does that run in your family? [Wink]

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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Page Three
Deck the Malls


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It's not really comparable to blacksmiths -- but tanners are a good example. If you're talking about the middle ages, tanners and executioners were among the lowest of the low. The first because they simply spent all day with unsavoury liquids, the latter... well, because they killed people. It wasn't so much that they wanted to keep a family business (being apprenticed to someone outside your family was perfectly normal and common pretty early on) but that nobody wanted to have anything more than necessary to do with social outcasts.
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Linden
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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The Sansons were the most famous family of executioners, at least in France. Six generations of them, from 1687 to 1847, when the last of the line was dismissed from the post because, in order to pay his gambling debts, he had pawned the guillotine (and I'd love to know how the conversation went when he reported that little misdemeanour to his boss).

Source: "Family of Death" by Geoffrey Abbot. Incidentally, Abbot seems to be the authority on executions -- I've seen him interviewed in various historical documentaries. Worth chasing his books for anyone interested in this subject as he somehow manages the difficult task of describing what the executioners did without getting any more prurient and morbid than can be expected.

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Yours, &c

Linden

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Major D. Saster
The First USA Noel


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As far as I know, executioners suffered of what they called "the prejudice", the fact that they were considered untouchables by the rest of the society.

So, although most of them were quite wealthy (it was at least a well-paid job and they had many financial privileges), it was impossible for an executioner to marry anyone but the daughter of another executioner (who herself would'nt find anyone else).

So, not only was the job generally transmitted from father to son, but many executioner families were indeed related.

Of course, I'm speaking of the times between the XIIIth and the early XXth century, until the death penalty was abolished almost everywhere (in France, it lasted until 1981, the last beheading taking place in 1977). Nowadays, people who have an executioner among their ancestors generally don't brag about it.

Hence, I'd say the OP is exxagerated, but there is some truth in it.

For those who speak french, I found a CD-ROM you can order about this strange topic :

http://php.pasteur.net/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=11

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Don Enrico
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Major D. Saster:
So, although most of them were quite wealthy (it was at least a well-paid job and they had many financial privileges), it was impossible for an executioner to marry anyone but the daughter of another executioner (who herself would'nt find anyone else).

But weren't there other "outcast" occupations? Tanners have been mentioned, knackers (dealing with the bodies of animals) and undertakers would come to mind, as well. Wouldn't an executioner's daughter be able to marry a knacker's son? Especially if he could inherit the father-in-law's (better paid) job?

Additionally, executioners weren't that many, even in medieval times. And since travelling wasn't common (at least in the Early and High Middle Ages), and the next executioner's family would probably reside at the next High Court some days of travel away, how would an executioner's sibling find a peer to marry?

I would presume that there definitly were "executioner's bloodlines", especially in the 17th and 18th century, but the claim that they were "all related" is untrue.

Don "the only one who could ever teach me was the son of a hangman" Enrico

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My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling, but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. - Pooh Bear

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Major D. Saster
The First USA Noel


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According to what I read, no one, no matter how lowly, would marry a member of an executioner's family. As for travelling, in the XVI and XVII century, most cities and every nobleman who had "the right of life and death on his lands" would have an executioner. So, executioners were not that far away from each other, and as in any other trade, it was common practice to send the family's son as an apprentice to a colleague. If this colleague happened to have a daughter, a marriage would often ensue.

For those interested, here's an official executioner's "paylist" from the provincial council of Artois, France, in 1757 :

- To burn at the stake : 90 Pounds.
- To scatter the ashes in the Wind : 6 Pounds.
- To break : 60 Pounds.
- To expose upon the Wheel : 15 Pounds.
- To hang : 30 Pounds.
- To drive to the Gallows : 3 Pounds.
- To torture : 15 Pounds per patient.
- To make kiss the Gallows, whip and mark with a red-hot iron : 22.10 Pounds.
- To whip and mark with the iron only : 15 Pounds.
- To mark with the hot iron only : 7.10 Pounds.
- For a public confession : 3 Pounds.
- To hang in Effigy : 10 Pounds.
- To bond to a pole : 7.10 Pounds.
- To expose in the pillory : 10 Pounds per patient.
- To burn the lips : 6 Pounds.
- To the paintor, for painting a picture of the Execution : 3 Pounds.
- To the carpenter, for building the Gallows : 50 Pounds.
- To install and take away a pole : 4 Pounds.

That job was quite horrible, but one could make a living. Especially if you consider that the patient's clothes belonged to the hangman (who could sell them to wealthy collectors), and that the executioner had other traditional rights, such as to take a handful of all goods on public market days.

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Desperate, but not serious.

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Gerard Morvan
Deck the Malls


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quote:
the executioner had other traditional rights, such as to take a handful of all goods on public market days
Which, BTW, led to a superstition in France: You should never, never, never, put the bread on a table upside down, because it brings very bad luck. Why? Because that's how the baker set the bread reserved for the executioner. At least, that's what I've read.

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"Kentoc'h Mervel !"

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Floater
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by Major D. Saster:
For those interested, here's an official executioner's "paylist" from the provincial council of Artois, France, in 1757 :

- To burn at the stake : 90 Pounds.
- To scatter the ashes in the Wind : 6 Pounds.
- To break : 60 Pounds.
- To expose upon the Wheel : 15 Pounds.
- To hang : 30 Pounds.

...

There is a similar list in Swedish (they used to sell it as a novelty when I was a student), but I must say that I have a vague memory of having seen it debunked as a UL many years ago.

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Små hönor skall inte lägga stora ägg för då blir de slarviga i ändan

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