To be hanged, drawn and quartered was, from , a statutory penalty in England for men convicted of high treason , although the ritual was first recorded during the reign of King Henry III — The convicted traitor was fastened to a hurdle , or wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution, where he was then hanged almost to the point of death , emasculated , disembowelled , beheaded , and quartered chopped into four pieces. His remains would then often be displayed in prominent places across the country, such as London Bridge , to serve as a warning of the fate of traitors.
So, what does it mean when someone is hanged, drawn and quartered?
Drawing and quartering , part of the grisly penalty anciently ordained in England for the crime of treason. The full punishment for a traitor could include several steps. First he was drawn, that is, tied to a horse and dragged to the gallows. A so-called hurdle, or sledge, is sometimes mentioned in this context. The remainder of the punishment might include hanging usually not to the death , usually live disemboweling, burning of the entrails, beheading , and quartering. This last step was sometimes accomplished by tying each of the four limbs to a different horse and spurring them in different directions.
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was a punishment in England used for men found guilty of high treason. Typically, the five body parts i. After the Crimes Act was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the prisoner was instead hanged until dead - not having to suffer the extremely painful remainder of the punishment while alive. The public display of the bodies of executed prisoners whether by hanging, drawing and quartering , or some other method was removed from English criminal law in ; drawing and quartering in There is debate among modern historians about whether "drawing" referred to the dragging to the place of execution or the disembowelling, but since two different words are used in the official documents detailing the trial of William Wallace " detrahatur " for drawing as a method of transport, and " devaletur " for disembowelment , there is no doubt that the subjects of the punishment were disembowelled.
In the days before there was really an official police force to catch criminals, many societies focused on trying to stop people from committing crimes in the first place. Usually, that meant making it very clear that even the pettiest crimes would be brutally punished with a public execution. And of course, the most serious crimes required the most brutal punishments. In 14th-century England, no crime was worse than trying to betray the crown.