Beheading And The Bloody History of Decapitation

Published February 8, 2016
Updated July 20, 2017

Beheading has a long history, and it might have a long future. Find out the who, when, why, where, and how of one of humanity's worst execution methods.

Beheading Throughout History

On the morning of February 8, 1587, the condemned sovereign Mary Queen of Scots mounted a public block and was put to death on the orders of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England, marking the end of one of history’s most famous disputes.

After 18 years of confinement in one fortified house after another, Mary blessed her executioners for “mak[ing] an end to all my troubles,” and even managed to fire off a few one-liners before the sentence was carried out.

That sentence was beheading, and it’s been one of humanity’s favorite execution methods since the first clever caveman figured out how to make troublesome cave neighbors shut up once and for all with the stroke of a sharpened stone.

Now, discover all the grisly ways we’ve been beheading since then…

author
Richard Stockton
author
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.
editor
John Kuroski
editor
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Stockton, Richard. "Beheading And The Bloody History of Decapitation." AllThatsInteresting.com, February 8, 2016, https://allthatsinteresting.com/beheading-history-of-decapitation. Accessed May 21, 2024.