0655-Gelderland

We can hardly imagine it nowadays, but corporal punishment used to be normal. Something stolen? Chances are your hand was chopped off. In the archives we found an interesting eighteenth-century price list of a Gelderlander executioner. The price list shows exactly how much money was previously paid for a corporal punishment, executed by an executioner (or in other words: sharpener). The most expensive punishment? Four parts, by horses. That cost about 90 guilders. Converted that is now about a thousand euros. This punishment was primarily against murderers of noblemen and traitors. For example, Balthasar Gerards, the murderer of William of Orange, was quartered.

Punishments that followed death, such as quartering, cartwheeling, hanging, drowning, and beheading, were much more expensive than mutilations. Examples of mutilation include cutting off an ear, branding or pinching it with glowing pliers. That cost “only” three or five guilders, a little more than 30 euros during this time. Another lugubrious fact: executioners were often paid extra if they managed to prolong the death of the convict for as long as possible. Execution used to be an outing for the rest of the village or town.

How the sentences were carried out? We also learned some details about this during tracking. We read about Marie Bennekom, she was executed in 1729. “In 1729, the Court of Gelderland had sentenced Marie Jansen from Bennekom to death for a five-fold murder. She had poisoned her husband, his child, her in-laws, and her lover.” She was punished for all these offenses. “First she was tied to a wooden cross and pinched in arms and legs with glowing pliers. Then all her bones were smashed to pieces and also her whole body, crosswise. After her corpse was exhibited on the Markt, it was towed to the Galgenberg where it was bound on the wheel with chains.” The Galgenberg was a gallows near Moscowa, in the forest of Klarenbeek near Arnheim.

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