Hugh Despenser the younger tried to starve himself before his trial, but he did face trial on 24 November 1326, in Hereford, before Mortimer and the Queen. He was judged a traitor and a thief, and sentenced to public execution by hanging, as a thief, and drawing and quartering, as a traitor. Additionally, he was sentenced to be disembowelled for having procured discord between the King and Queen, and to be beheaded, for returning to England after having been banished.Treason had also been the grounds for Gaveston’s execution; the belief was that these men had misled the King rather than the King himself being guilty of folly.
Immediately after the trial, Despenser was dragged behind four horses to his place of execution, where a great fire was lit. He was stripped naked, and Biblical verses denouncing arrogance and evil were carved into his skin. He was then hanged from a gallows 50 ft (15 m) high, but cut down before he could choke to death.
In Froissart‘s account of the execution, Despenser was then tied to a ladder, and —in full view of the crowd— had his genitals sliced off and burned (in his still-conscious sight) then his entrails slowly pulled out, and, finally, his heart cut out and thrown into the fire. Professor Clare Sponsler says that Froissart is the only source to describe castration, where all other contemporary accounts have Despenser quartered, hanged, and beheaded.
Just before he died, it is recorded that he let out a “ghastly inhuman howl”,much to the delight and merriment of the spectators.Finally, his corpse was beheaded, his body cut into four pieces, and his head mounted on the gates of London. Mortimer and Isabella feasted with their chief supporters, as they watched the execution.
Starting on June 25, Nazi-organized units attacked Jewish civilians in the Kaunas suburb of Slobodka (known to Lithuanians as Vilijampol?, a Jewish suburb hosting the world-famous Slobodka yeshiva). As of June 28, 1941, according to Stahlecker, 3,800 people had been killed in Kaunas and a further 1,200 in other towns in the immediate region. Some believe Stahlecker exaggerated his accomplishments. According to Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, there were Germans present on the bridge to Slobodka, but it was the Lithuanian volunteers who killed the Jews. The rabbi of Slobodka, Rav Zalman Osovsky, was tied hand and foot to a chair, “then his head was laid upon an open volume of gemora (volume of the Talmud) and [they] sawed his head off”, after which they murdered his wife and son. His head was placed in a window of the residence, bearing a sign: “This is what we’ll do to all the Jews.”
The Execution of Captain Henry Nicholl for Homosexuality
Following the execution of the Earl of Castlehaven in 1631, there appear to have been no more executions for sodomy in Britain until the 18th century. By the early part of the 19th century, executions for homosexuals were steadily increasing – in one English county alone, Middlesex, 28 men were hanged out of a total of 42 convicted sodomites during the period 1805 -15. And sodomy was regarded as so base a crime in early 19th century Britain that in newspaper accounts of the trials and executions of those convicted, it was commonplace to write somewhat euphemistically about their offences, in contrast to the reports of trials of murder, for which all the gory details would normally be published. In the Times of August 13th, 1833, for example, a report on the execution of Henry Nicoll, a retired captain from the Fourteenth Infantry Regiment, says of his crime only that he “was tried and found guilty of an unnatural offense”. It was a popular pastime for large crowds to watch executions in those days, and the Times reported that “amongst the spectators a large number of females also presented themselves, and, by their shouts, manifested their abhorrence of the criminal”. The broadside of Nicoll’s execution employs language of an even more venemous kind than was customary for hangings, reflecting the general view of the base level of depravity of his offense, but still without saying what he had done. “Heinous, horribly frightful, and disgusting was the crime for which the above poor wretched culprit suffered the severe penalty of the law this morning, Monday, August 12th, 1833…Thank heaven for the public Gallows of Justice in England is rarely disgraced by the execution of such wretches; but every person must have observed, with dismay, how greatly the number of diabolical assaults of a similar nature, have largely multiplied in this country.”