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  • It's the end of June 1462, and the Ottoman army is met with an eerie silence as it marches

  • into the town ofrgoviște in Romania.

  • Someone has been there before them.

  • His name is Vlad Dracula.

  • The Ottomans move cautiously through the streets, wondering all the time where the people are.

  • There are no kids playing, no men hard at work, just empty houses, and the odd wandering

  • dog.

  • And then they see it, a sight so chilling it almost brings them to their knees.

  • Before them stands “a forest of the impaled.”

  • For hundreds of feet, around 20,000 people are impaled on stakes.

  • Not only the men but the women and children, too.

  • One man has to look away as he sees a woman and her infant impaled on the same stake…a

  • bird has made a nest where their guts used to be.

  • This is unforgivable.

  • What we just described to you was written by the Byzantine Greek chronicler, Laonikos

  • Chalkokondyles, and was part of the ten books he wrote known asThe Histories”.

  • It described the diabolical nature of the man we know today as Vlad the Impaler, certainly

  • not the only man in history fond of impaling his enemies, but perhaps the best known for

  • this hideous form of execution.

  • Today we'll talk about impaling throughout history, and we'll also explain how it was

  • done and why it was done.

  • The why-part may surprise some of you.

  • You can read many old texts that were written in parts of Europe that describe Vlad's

  • utter brutality, but historians tell us to be cautious in regard to what we believe because

  • some stories may have been exaggerated.

  • Still, not many people disagree that Vlad was as described, “a demented psychopath,

  • a sadist, a gruesome murderer, a masochist.”

  • He certainly tortured people and he certainly impaled people, but as some people point out,

  • he did so to put the fear of God in his enemies and retain order among his people.

  • He might not have actually nailed turbans to men's heads or executed women for being

  • lazy.

  • Maybe not all the legends that are written about Vlad the Impaler were true, but there's

  • no doubt he impaled a lot of people during his reign.

  • He wasn't the first person to do it, either, and people did it for a long time after Vlad

  • took his last breath.

  • In fact, folks were impaled not so long ago, but let's now go back in time to ancient

  • history.

  • If you look at something called theCode of Hammurabi”, an ancient Babylonian law

  • book that dates back to around 1772 BC, you'll see that impalement was the sentence handed

  • down to a woman who'd killed a man for another man.

  • Law number 153 states this, “If a woman brings about the death of her husband for

  • the sake of another man, they shall impale her.”

  • We found other texts relating to laws in the ancient Near East that talk about impaling.

  • It seems in some areas all a woman had to do was cheat on her husband and she could

  • get impaled, while prisoners of war or people who were accused of certain sins could also

  • face the same fate.

  • Later in time, it happened during the Neo-Assyrian empire.

  • We know this from statues and carvings that depict impaling.

  • There are some descriptions, too.

  • Over eight hundred years before Christ was born a Neo-Assyrian named King Ashurnasirpal

  • II wrote this about his handiwork: “I cut off their hands, I burned them with

  • fire, a pile of the living men and of heads over against the city gate I set up, men I

  • impaled on stakes, the city I destroyed and devastated, I turned it into mounds and ruin

  • heaps, the young men and the maidens in the fire I burned.”

  • The reason a King might do this of course was to instill terror in people.

  • Seeing a bunch of people being impaled on stakes acted as a deterrent to anyone thinking

  • about becoming a rebel.

  • Centuries later, Darius The Great, the King of Persia, was said to have impaled 3000 Babylonians

  • when he conquered Babylon.

  • In an inscription this is how he explained what he did to a rebel:

  • “I cut off his nose and ears and tongue and put out one eye.

  • He was kept bound at my palace entrance, all the people saw him.

  • Afterward, I impaled him at Ecbatana and the men who were his foremost followers, those

  • at Ecbatana within the fortress I flayed and hung out their hides, stuffed with straw.”

  • Ok, so it seems to have happened a lot in ancient times.

  • It is also referenced in the bible, although some translations use hanging and others use

  • impalement, so there are disagreements there.

  • As for those torture-loving ancient Romans, while they seemed to derive enjoyment from

  • the whole gamut of creative punishments there is little written about implement in ancient

  • Roman texts.

  • It seems to have happened from time to time, but the Romans preferred crucifixion to impalement,

  • a punishment that could last a lot longer.

  • Let's remember, while impalement was horrific, once that stake is driven through the body

  • the victim will usually die very quickly.

  • Well, in most cases.

  • As you'll see, impalement could be a slow process at times.

  • Now let's talk about, “Transversal impalement”, something we haven't touched on yet.

  • There are quite a few mentions of this in old German texts from the later Middle Ages.

  • Similar to some Assyrian laws from ancient times, it seems if a woman in parts of Germany

  • was accused of killing her own child she could be impaled.

  • What was different from the Assyrian way of doing it is rather than the person was mounted

  • on a stake, a stake was driven through the victim.

  • There's evidence dating back to the 14th century that tells us a woman and a man accused

  • of adultery could be impaled this way.

  • They would be tied together and placed on the ground or in a grave and a stake would

  • be driven through both of them, a kind of symbolic execution as it meant the cheaters

  • would stay together forever.

  • In 1340, there exists a German law code that says the husband of the woman who has cheated

  • on him with another man can make a choice.

  • That is, collect some cash as compensation or have the couple tied down.

  • He is then handed the hammer with which he'll drive the stake through his wife and her lover.

  • Staying with Germany, laws were written in the 1500s that stated if a woman killed her

  • own child the usual punishment would be drowning, but in some cases, she might be buried alive

  • and a stake would be driven right through her heart.

  • It seems around the same time this punishment was also sometimes reserved for women accused

  • of being witches.

  • Transversal impalement was certainly no walk in the park for the victim, but we think longitudinal

  • impalement was worse.

  • As described, the former is having a stake pushed through a person's middle, mostly

  • their chest.

  • The latter is having the stake pushed through the length of a person's body.

  • How exact this was we can't be sure, but in some cases, the perfect longitudinal impalement

  • would be if the stake entered the anus and came out through the chest.

  • Yep, a stake through the heart would beat that any day of the week.

  • As you know, this punishment often happened to rebels or prisoners of war.

  • It was a statement used by Vlad the Impaler more than anyone else, but it happened all

  • across Europe.

  • One thing it was used for was when a person defected to another army or collaborated with

  • an enemy, possibly the worst crime in the eyes of the country you were fighting for.

  • There are instances of it happening a few times when local people just provided food

  • for soldiers.

  • Those locals were captured by the other side and accused of helping the enemy.

  • Only the most extreme punishment was handed down to them.

  • In western Europe, it was the Germans that seemed to be particularly fixated on this

  • form of punishment.

  • Not only did they do it to rebels, but they also impaled people who'd been accused of

  • robbery.

  • One book it's mentioned in doesn't say what kind of robbery, but it's likely the

  • victims had been accused of stealing from the state.

  • Impalement might also happen to people who'd been accused of committing the very worst

  • kind of crimes against one's own community.

  • Let's take murderers for instance.

  • They might have been beheaded or even had their bodies broken on the wheel, but some

  • lawmakers saw this as getting off lightly, especially when they were serial killers.

  • We might take the case of a man named Pavel Vašanský.

  • He was a prolific highway robber in the 1500s who worked in today's Czech Republic.

  • He not only stole cash and valuables from the people he robbed, but he often killed

  • them in the process.

  • When he was arrested, he confessed to 124 murders, which made him a very active killer.

  • His punishment was definitely commensurate to his crime...if he actually committed those

  • crimes.

  • Police work back then was somewhat sketchy.

  • First, they cut off his limbs.

  • Then, while he was still breathing, they took a pair of red hot pincers and removed his

  • nipples.

  • Only then was he impaled on a stake.

  • For good measure, they set him on fire.

  • We should say that in those days when you admitted to a number of murders you weren't

  • doing so in the name of a plea deal.

  • You were more often than not tortured before you admitted your guilt.

  • We found another case, this time in Germany, that involved a man that went by the name

  • of Puschpeter.

  • He killed 30 people, and some of those were pregnant women.

  • He'd done this because he wanted the unborn babies.

  • He thought if he ate them, he would gain the power of invisibility.

  • Such were the times.

  • People were quite superstitious.

  • We guess Puschpeter found out the hard way that his invisibility medicine didn't quite

  • work.

  • There is a legend about this man which involves him telling off his executioner for not doing

  • the impalement correctly.

  • According to this legend, he told the executioner to take him down and do it again, this time

  • hitting the right spot.

  • Is that true?

  • According to the book, “History of the German people at the close of the middle ages”,

  • they first took off one of his hands with red hot pincers and then dragged him through

  • the town, but there's no mention of the botched execution.

  • What's interesting is that book recounts many crimes and punishments in Germany in

  • the mid to late 1500s and it seems lots of people were executed for civil crimes, but

  • they were usually beheaded or hanged.

  • The book explains that the authorities only tortured people who'd been accused of the

  • worst kind of crimes.

  • The torture itself was weighed against the strength of a person.

  • If the person looked tough, the torture was more brutal.

  • The torture was not recorded, but the confession was.

  • After that, the torture stopped.

  • The accused was never asked about the torture again and only had to confirm in court his

  • confession.

  • We told you police work was sketchy in those days.

  • Ok, back to impalement and the last times it was employed as a punishment.

  • During the 17th and 18th centuries, people were impaled throughout the Ottoman Empire.

  • The punishment was again seen as the worst of the worst and only reserved for the worst

  • kind of criminal.

  • It didn't happen often, but when it did it was usually highway robbers who were laid

  • on the stake.

  • Apparently the last time the Ottomans impaled highway robbers was in the 1830s, so when

  • you consider it was happening in 1772 BC, impalement was a punishment with legs.

  • It also happened to Christians who'd been accused of speaking against Islam or having

  • a love affair with a Muslim woman.

  • According to the writer Jean de Thévenot, the man could convert to Islam and get out

  • of impalement.

  • In the early 19th century the Ottoman government also did this to Greek bandits that had become

  • rebels.

  • They'd be taken to a place where the entire village or town could see and impaled there

  • as a message to anyone else thinking about rebelling.

  • Even if you were accused of giving food to a rebel or offering one shelter, you might

  • also be impaled.

  • It gets worse.

  • Sometimes those rebels would have parts chopped off them before being impaled.

  • They might also be flayed beforehand.

  • On occasions, the person would be impaled and then held over a fire and roasted to death.

  • The Greek War of Independence then broke out in 1821, and during that war, a lot of Greeks

  • found themselves on the wrong end of a stake.

  • Around 65 Greeks were impaled during the Constantinople massacre, something which was a retaliation

  • for the war breaking out.

  • It happened to 30 more Greeks on the island of Zakynthos.

  • In various parts of Greece, even women, older people, and monks were impaled from time to

  • time during this bloody war.

  • We've talked about this next method of impalement before, so we'll make it short.

  • This is a method known as bamboo torture.

  • It's simple.

  • Bamboo is hard as hell and grows very, very fast.

  • Tie a man over a shoot and he will slowly be impaled on it.

  • There are records of this happening in Thailand, India, and where the Japanese held prisoners

  • of war in the Pacific.

  • This might not seem so brutal, but what would be better, being thrown onto the stake, or

  • having one slowly work its way through your body?

  • Two other slow methods of impalement, both around in the 18th century, involved the use

  • of hooks.

  • One of them, sometimes calledcengela”, was very slow and very painful.

  • A man would be fastened to a hook that was placed right below his rib cage.

  • The hook would then be pulled up until it pulled open his chest.

  • This was used by the Ottomans and it was also a punishment for rebel slaves in Dutch Suriname.

  • A name for this punishment ishanged by the ribs.”

  • Yet another form of impalement happened from time to time in Algeria in the 18th century.

  • It was simple, painful, slow.

  • Hooks were fixed into city walls and men were thrust upon those hooks, howling out in pain

  • for everyone to see.

  • Now check out Worst Punishments: The Upright Jerker, or have a look at this...

It's the end of June 1462, and the Ottoman army is met with an eerie silence as it marches

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Impalement - Worst Ways to Die (History Animation)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/30
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