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  • Review: Death of a Princess July 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Death of a Princess

    Death of a Princess, a modest British television documentary, turned out to be the most expensive film ever made. It cost perhaps  a billion pounds and this was in 1980 when that kind of money could buy your three or four aircraft carriers. The piece, made for British television, tells the story of a nineteen-year-old Saudi […]

    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven June 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven

    Bestiality (humans having sex with animals) has been a long-standing minority pursuit, which very occasionally has been ritualised, memories of a king having sex with a horse in Ireland and hints of a tribal leader marrying a seal. In most societies though bestiality has been punished and punished harshly. None of this is new, but what […]

    Execution by Dogs? May 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Execution by Dogs?

    North Korea is a frequent source of joy for bizarrists: if not for the poor wretched put upon people who live there. For example, last month Beach wrote up the Indian custom of death by cannon, only to be trumped by Kim Jong-un who had just executed his minister of defence with an anti-aircraft gun. This got Beach […]

    Two Monmouth Moments May 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Two Monmouth Moments

    The Duke of Monmouth was the illegitimate son of Charles II and a bit of a ‘tosser’ to use the northern vernacular: he looks, in the portrait above, like an underwear model trying to be ‘hot’, or a nineteen year old who has just made it into a boy band. There is no question that he was […]

    Downey’s Death: Killed by Imagination May 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Downey's Death: Killed by Imagination

    Beach stumbled across this story a couple of weeks ago and thought he’d put it up for the practical jokes tag. There was much interest in the nineteenth century about how the psychological impression of death could cause death. Somewhere Beach has read a French version of this (can anyone help: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    Execution by Cannon May 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Execution by Cannon

    Human beings have long showed remarkable ingenuity at getting rid of their fellow human beings, especially perhaps human beings that they do not like. Once the cannon was invented it was only a matter of time before someone tied a prisoner to the front and lit a fuse, blowing his body into a constellation of pain, the […]

    Self Serving Capital Punishment May 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Self Serving Capital Punishment

    Where are our modern executioners? Most people would have problems answering this because there are no modern executioners as such, at least in the US. There are guards (who get overtime), there are governors, there are wardens, there are doctors and, outside some death chambers, there are members of the general public and journalists. It might […]

    The Hanging Bed April 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hanging Bed

    Ohio’s premier anomalist, Chris Woodyard has just put up a post on an unusual method of execution in the nineteenth-century press, the cone of death, and she has two earlier posts, including the needle mask, praying to death, squeezing to death and smothering to death. Every ‘funny’ bone in Beachcombing’s body tells him that there […]

    Immortal Meals #21: The Fish That Killed An Emperor March 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals #21: The Fish That Killed An Emperor

    ***thanks to Tacitus from Detritus for sending this one in*** Symmachus and the far more famous Boethius were Roman nobles after the end of the Roman empire, an uncomfortable time to be ‘senators’. Boethius fell into disgrace with the emperor Theoderic: he essentially got into trouble for defending, in the law courts, an enemy of Theoderic. […]

    European Kings: the Most Dangerous Job in the World? February 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    European Kings: the Most Dangerous Job in the World?

    Last week’s silly post on royal tennis deaths and flashbacks from Game of Thrones got Beach thinking. We all die, but if you were a European monarch what were the chances that someone would kill you? The weekends are short so Beach limited himself to England. From 1000-1700 there were 43 monarchs: obviously there is some […]

    Roman Killing Theatre August 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Roman Killing Theatre

    The Romans, as is well known, had a particular genius for killing and for all their precious disgust at human sacrifice (the Empire banned human sacrifice wherever they found it) gladiatorial displays, occasional acts of genocide and public executions were all to the good. The most unusual aspect of Roman public executions was the willingness […]

    The Somers Affair: A Pirate Fantasy and Three Nooses July 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Somers Affair: A Pirate Fantasy and Three Nooses

    The Somers affair is a curious incident dating to 1843 in which three American sailors were executed/murdered (opinions differ) in surprising circumstances. There is a lot of scope for psychologising and motive fishing, but the best bet is that this was an adolescent game that got very, very badly out of hand. First, the bare […]

    Last Meals of US Condemned June 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Last Meals of US Condemned

    A book on the history of the last meal (including attempts to intoxicate the soon to be executed) would be a fascinating one. Not least is the rather poor taste in banning the custom in some states in the US, that seems an unnecessary act of spite to criminals living their difficult last hours. There […]

    Image: Bloody Babs Says Goodbye to Tommy April 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Bloody Babs Says Goodbye to Tommy

    Barbara Graham was executed by the State of California, June 3 1955, in the gas chamber at St Quentin: she had been found guilty of the murder of one Mabel Monahan, an elderly lady. There are some questions about her guilt. Perhaps we can lay this to rest, immediately, by noting that whether BG actually […]

    The Last Stoning in Ireland November 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Stoning in Ireland

    Ok this title is a provocation. Saying the last stoning in Ireland is a bit like saying the last blizzard in Saudia Arabia or the last vegetarian meal in France. The early Irish left behind detailed law codes and there is no record of anyone being stoned at any time. Their medieval heirs had many […]

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