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#1
Old 08-02-2012, 07:26 AM
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How Long Does It Take to Die from Burning at the Stake?

I can't imagine the agony of dying in such a way. But I also imagine the carbon monoxide fumes will kill you in pretty short order, as in, ~5 minutes.

Anyone got the scoop?
#2
Old 08-02-2012, 07:47 AM
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Well, gosh, so many variables - what is fueling the fire? Obviously, items that generate toxic fumes are likely to kill you quicker. Is there a breeze/wind that might push toxic fumes and smoke away from you, leaving you to die of burns, or is it blowing it toward you, so you suffocate? How intense is the fire? I could see a situation where it smolders awhile, causing severe but not immediately fatal burns to the feet and legs before flaring up to roast the rest of you. Are the perpetrators of this deed wanting to get it done quickly or do they want to torture awhile?
#3
Old 08-02-2012, 08:00 AM
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I've read (No cite) that if the victim paid a bribe to the person who built the fire, the fire builder would use lots of green wood (Or something) so that the fumes and smoke would kill (Or at least render unconscious) the victim first, thus avoiding pain from the fire.
#4
Old 08-02-2012, 08:04 AM
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Depends, I suppose. If the wood was damp or green, the smoke and fumes might kill you before the flames licked at your feet. The wind direction might keep the flames from you but not the heat. Some people were tarred to make them go up nicely.

In practice, most people burned at the stake were strangled by the executioner before the flames got to them, or paid to have sachets of gunpowder put about their person to speed their death. Bloody Mary decreed that the Protestant martyrs she had burned were no to be strangled and no green wood to be used so they suffered as long as possible, but no-one knows how long it took them to die.

Bishop John Hooper was burned to death in 1555 and "suffered agonies for nearly an hour" before he died.
#5
Old 08-02-2012, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake View Post
I've read (No cite) that if the victim paid a bribe to the person who built the fire, the fire builder would use lots of green wood (Or something) so that the fumes and smoke would kill (Or at least render unconscious) the victim first, thus avoiding pain from the fire.
I vaguely recall reading about a burning-at-the-stake in which the wood was deliberately selected green - or the condemned was placed relatively high above the fire - or both - so that he was slowly (and painfully) roasted rather than being quickly burned. I don't recall mention of early unconsciousness due to CO poisoning.

I'll try to find a cite tonight.
#6
Old 08-02-2012, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
I can't imagine the agony of dying in such a way. But I also imagine the carbon monoxide fumes will kill you in pretty short order, as in, ~5 minutes.
(Bold added.)

It's one of those things that you have to experience in order to imagine it. One of those things that everyone needs to try at least once in your life.

I wonder if, even for the experienced, it's too awful to imagine.

Last edited by Senegoid; 08-02-2012 at 02:59 PM.
#7
Old 08-02-2012, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
I vaguely recall reading about a burning-at-the-stake in which the wood was deliberately selected green - or the condemned was placed relatively high above the fire - or both - so that he was slowly (and painfully) roasted rather than being quickly burned. I don't recall mention of early unconsciousness due to CO poisoning.
I seem to remember in the book Out of the Flames the author talking about how after the reformation they started using more green wood so the process would be longer and more painful.
#8
Old 08-02-2012, 03:25 PM
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Moe: "How would you rather die-burnt at the stake or have your head chopped off?
Larry: :burnt at the stake"
Moe: "why"
Larry: "a hot steak is better than a cold chop!"
#9
Old 08-02-2012, 03:31 PM
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There are also stories about how spectators friendly to the prisoner would throw extra wood on the fire, to speed up the process.
#10
Old 08-02-2012, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
There are also stories about how spectators friendly to the prisoner would throw extra wood on the fire, to speed up the process.
Would you really want to advertise yourself as friendly to someone who's getting burned at the stake?
#11
Old 08-02-2012, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
There are also stories about how spectators friendly to the prisoner would throw extra wood on the fire, to speed up the process.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Would you really want to advertise yourself as friendly to someone who's getting burned at the stake?

Adding wood - Okay
Adding water - that would get you noticed by the authorities
#12
Old 08-02-2012, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
I vaguely recall reading about a burning-at-the-stake in which the wood was deliberately selected green - or the condemned was placed relatively high above the fire - or both - so that he was slowly (and painfully) roasted rather than being quickly burned. I don't recall mention of early unconsciousness due to CO poisoning.

I'll try to find a cite tonight.
The story is probably apocryphal, but tradition holds that St. Lawrence of Rome was burned to death not on a stake but on an iron grill. After lying in agony on the hot irons over the fire, he reportedly told his executioners, "Turn me over; I'm done on this side."
#13
Old 08-02-2012, 04:46 PM
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To better cook the condemned and maximize the sensory experience for the guest of honor, the Brazen Bull was a handy utensil. It was a large, hollow metal sculpture of a bull with a hatch in the side. Put the prisoner inside, build a fire underneath, cook thoroughly until well done.

It is said that the inventor, just like Dr. Guillotine, ended up being a guest of honor.

Quote:
Phalaris commanded that the bull be designed in such a way that its smoke rise in spicy clouds of incense.[4] The head of the ox was designed with a complex system of tubes and stops so that the prisoner's screams were converted into sounds like the bellowing of an infuriated bull.[5] According to legend, when the bull was reopened, the victim's scorched bones "shone like jewels and were made into bracelets."[6]

Perillos said to Phalaris: "[His screams] will come to you through the pipes as the tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious of bellowings."[7] Disgusted by these words, Phalaris ordered its horn sound system to be tested on Perillos himself.
#14
Old 08-02-2012, 05:11 PM
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Hey, getting scorched happens in many other non-intentional ways too, not just deliberately when they burn someone at the stake. I'm thinking, it's still gotta hurt, even so.

Here's a seething description by James Oberg, of the death of cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko, incinerated in a training accident in 1961, well before American astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee went out about the same way (in 1967 or so). Bondarenko was engulfed in flame in a 50% oxygen atmosphere for about 30 minutes before they could get him out, and he lived for another 16 hours before he died. The doctors might have managed to get him fully doped up on morphine for some portion of that time, once they finally got him to a hospital. Oberg tells of the account given by Golyakhovsky, the ER doctor:

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Oberg
As Golyakhovsky remembered it, a severely burned man identified only as "Sergeyev, a 24-year-old Air Force Lieutenant," was brought in by stretcher. "I couldn't help shuddering," Golyakhovsky recalled. "The whole of him was burnt. The body was totally denuded of skin, the head of hair; there were no eyes in the face. ... It was a total burn of the severest degree. But the patient was alive...."

Golyakhovsky saw the man's mouth moving and bent down to listen. "Too much pain -- do something, please -- to kill the pain" were the tortured words he could make out.

"Sergeyev" was scorched everywhere but the soles of his feet, where his flight boots had offered some protection from the flames. With great dimculty the doctors inserted intravenous lines into his feet (they couldn't find blood vessels anywhere else) and administered painkillers and medication. "Unfortunately, Sergeyev was doomed," Golyakhovsky remembered realizing immediately. "And yet, all of us were eager to do something, anything, to alleviate his terrible suffering." The man lingered for sixteen hours before dying.

Last edited by Senegoid; 08-02-2012 at 05:13 PM.
#15
Old 08-02-2012, 06:10 PM
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I don't have a cite, but I remember reading a horrible story where two men were being burnt at the same time. One died peacefully and almost immediately. The other lingered for hours as his lower extremities burnt.

I guess if you are "lucky" enough for there to be a steady plume of smoke in your face, you "get away" with suffocating instead of burning.
#16
Old 08-02-2012, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senegoid;15342095<snip>It is said that the inventor, just like [b
Dr. Guillotine[/b], ended up being a guest of honor.
[pedantic correction] the name of the doctor was Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (notice note no e at the end), and he didn't invent the guillotine and wasn't executed with it. The inventor of the machine was Antoine Louis [/pc]
#17
Old 08-02-2012, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by detop View Post
[pedantic correction] the name of the doctor was Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (notice note no e at the end), and he didn't invent the guillotine and wasn't executed with it. The inventor of the machine was Antoine Louis [/pc]
Okay, it says that he was, in fact, an opponent of the death penalty, but given that it existed and was commonly done in gruesome ways, he promoted the adoption of the Louis device to be used for all classes of people and all crimes. It came to be associated with him and came to be called by his name (with the e somehow added). The Guillotin family eventually changed their family name to disassociate themselves from it.

A different Dr. Guillotin got himself abbreviated that way, adding to the confusion. Who knew?
#18
Old 08-02-2012, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
Hey, getting scorched happens in many other non-intentional ways too, not just deliberately when they burn someone at the stake. I'm thinking, it's still gotta hurt, even so.

Here's a seething description by James Oberg, of the death of cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko, incinerated in a training accident in 1961, well before American astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee went out about the same way (in 1967 or so). Bondarenko was engulfed in flame in a 50% oxygen atmosphere for about 30 minutes before they could get him out, and he lived for another 16 hours before he died. The doctors might have managed to get him fully doped up on morphine for some portion of that time, once they finally got him to a hospital. Oberg tells of the account given by Golyakhovsky, the ER doctor:
ISTM that they could have found a quicker way to put him out of his misery.
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#19
Old 08-02-2012, 07:52 PM
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#20
Old 08-02-2012, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jtgain View Post
I don't have a cite, but I remember reading a horrible story where two men were being burnt at the same time. One died peacefully and almost immediately. The other lingered for hours as his lower extremities burnt.
Was it the Protestant priests Latimer and Ridley, burned in Oxford in 1554? Latimer died quickly, but Ridley suffered "great agony" until the flames were high enough for him to force his head into them, igniting a bag of gunpowder round his neck.

John Foxe's "Book of Martyrs" (or really "Actes and Monuments") published 1563 is the one to read.
#21
Old 08-02-2012, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Would you really want to advertise yourself as friendly to someone who's getting burned at the stake?
People weren't stupid back then. They knew who the executed person's friends and family were just like would be known today. They wouldn't have needed to see being friendly to the excecuted person at the execution.
#22
Old 08-05-2012, 10:34 AM
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How can people survive so long with such an extremely high temperature? If your legs are on fire and blood still pumping, it doesn't seem like it would be too long before your temp was too high to live.
#23
Old 08-05-2012, 11:59 AM
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At a certain point the blood vessels in your legs sear shut and thus blood is no longer pumping through them. Meanwhile, the rest of the body that isn't quite as toasty is still alive.
#24
Old 01-09-2013, 08:29 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Arden

Wow, poor Elizabeth Stafford, at such a young age of 16 to be burned to death for being a simple accomplice. She has got to be one of the youngest people to be legally executed in such a gruesome manner, actually might be one of the youngest girl to die in the most painful manner. Has there ever been a younger girl who died a in a more painful manner?
#25
Old 01-09-2013, 08:47 PM
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I'm wondering if the flames would burn off your pain receptors. There is a video on YouTube showing people being burned to death. They are suspected witches. I realize they must have accepted their fates but still they seem to be taking it relatively in stride and are not bound in any way. If it was as painful as I imagine it to be I think I would involuntarily running and fighting for everything I was worth.

I won't link to the video as it's extremely graphic, but if you want to view it, google:
The Religious in Africa burning suspected witches.
#26
Old 01-09-2013, 09:08 PM
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My first assumption would be that any such video found on YouTube would be fake.

Others have mentioned the condemned having gunpowder with them. Were there any confirmed incidences of the condemned smuggling in gunpowder unknown to the executioners, or packing shrapnel in with it, as alluded to by Pratchett and Gaiman?
#27
Old 01-09-2013, 09:47 PM
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If you ask me, this YouTube video showing "witches" being burnt in Africa is no fake. Not recommended for more sensitive folks.
SPOILER:
https://youtube.com/watch?v=U5qYhmf-boE
#28
Old 01-09-2013, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Were there any confirmed incidences of the condemned smuggling in gunpowder unknown to the executioners, or packing shrapnel in with it, as alluded to by Pratchett and Gaiman?
Packing it with shrapnel wouldn't work. Gunpowder is a low explosive, which basically means that it will only explode if it's confined until it builds up enough pressure to blow apart the container. Gunpowder out in the open, or in a bag, will burn really fast and really hot, but it won't explode and so won't fling shrapnel.
#29
Old 01-09-2013, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
My first assumption would be that any such video found on YouTube would be fake.
It's not faked. Next time maybe you could do me the courtesy of actually viewing the video before dismissing my comments out of hand.
#30
Old 01-09-2013, 10:54 PM
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I have read but cannot remember where or when that the sufferes were sometimes wetted down before the fire was lit, to prolong the heat agony.
#31
Old 01-09-2013, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Well, gosh, so many variables - what is fueling the fire? Obviously, items that generate toxic fumes are likely to kill you quicker. Is there a breeze/wind that might push toxic fumes and smoke away from you, leaving you to die of burns, or is it blowing it toward you, so you suffocate? How intense is the fire? ... Are the perpetrators of this deed wanting to get it done quickly or do they want to torture awhile?
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great Cornholio View Post
In practice, most people burned at the stake were strangled by the executioner before the flames got to them, or paid to have sachets of gunpowder put about their person to speed their death. Bloody Mary decreed that the Protestant martyrs she had burned were no to be strangled and no green wood to be used so they suffered as long as possible, but no-one knows how long it took them to die.

Bishop John Hooper was burned to death in 1555 and "suffered agonies for nearly an hour" before he died.
What else had been done to the condemned beforehand and what else was done as part of the execution process also affected the outcome. The sentences can get pretty gory.
#32
Old 01-10-2013, 01:04 AM
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Last year I watched some movie (Tudors TV series perhaps?) in which the burnees screamed for help: "Help us! It's not hot enough!"
#33
Old 01-10-2013, 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by PlainJain View Post
I'm wondering if the flames would burn off your pain receptors
For third and fourth degree burns, apparently yes.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_d...burns#By_depth

Second degree burns are apparently the worst. Third degree apparently are (relatively) painless -- but you gotta savor the second-degree experience on the way to getting there.
#34
Old 01-10-2013, 12:33 PM
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It's not faked. Next time maybe you could do me the courtesy of actually viewing the video before dismissing my comments out of hand.
What difference would that have made? I and probably everyone else in this thread lack the expertise to be able to tell a real video from a fake. It's not like I expected it to be a high-school drama production with crepe paper blowing in a fan for the flames. Rather, I expect that it would look just like a real burning, or close enough that nobody who hasn't seen a real burning could tell the difference.

Plus, of course, if it is real, then you're doing everyone else a great disservice by expecting us to watch it. Most people don't want to see things like that.
#35
Old 01-10-2013, 01:41 PM
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And your doing a great disservice to everyone by making the choice for everyone. I've seen the video several times and I just watched it again.
#36
Old 01-10-2013, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
To better cook the condemned and maximize the sensory experience for the guest of honor, the Brazen Bull was a handy utensil. It was a large, hollow metal sculpture of a bull with a hatch in the side. Put the prisoner inside, build a fire underneath, cook thoroughly until well done.

It is said that the inventor, just like Dr. Guillotine, ended up being a guest of honor.
On the History Channel (or something like that) they mentioned that since the body is mostly water, after not too long the victim would boil, releasing steam through the vents, and that's what was used to made the sounds. Basically a big teakettle. When things cooled down later and the bull was opened, there was very little material, charred, left inside.
#37
Old 01-10-2013, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
On the History Channel (or something like that) they mentioned that since the body is mostly water, after not too long the victim would boil, releasing steam through the vents, and that's what was used to made the sounds. Basically a big teakettle. When things cooled down later and the bull was opened, there was very little material, charred, left inside.
I can't imagine that the guest of honor ("victim" in your terminology ) could boil and scream at the same time. I would think that the screaming comes first, but would stop when (or well before) the boiling begins.

Last edited by Senegoid; 01-10-2013 at 06:31 PM.
#38
Old 01-10-2013, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Plus, of course, if it is real, then you're doing everyone else a great disservice by expecting us to watch it. Most people don't want to see things like that.
Re-read my post. I said nothing about expecting anyone to watch it. I specially didn't include a link for that reason.

If you don't want to watch it, fine. But then don't comment on its veracity. There are several new stories covering the event that are googlable without having to watch the video.

All of which completely misses my point.
#39
Old 01-10-2013, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
I can't imagine that the guest of honor ("victim" in your terminology ) could boil and scream at the same time. I would think that the screaming comes first, but would stop when (or well before) the boiling begins.
Yes, there was some screaming up front, which stopped, and the whistling came not too long later.
#40
Old 01-10-2013, 09:06 PM
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I recall that in The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco claimed your heart explodes rather soon. Something about pressure from the heat buildup?
#41
Old 01-10-2013, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Infectedglory View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Arden

Wow, poor Elizabeth Stafford, at such a young age of 16 to be burned to death for being a simple accomplice. She has got to be one of the youngest people to be legally executed in such a gruesome manner, actually might be one of the youngest girl to die in the most painful manner. Has there ever been a younger girl who died a in a more painful manner?
Your last question is meant for execution, presumably, as opposed to say house fire. In recent memory, and one which troubles my thoughts, obviously, are the untold infants and children tossed on pyres in concentration camps when corpse disposal and gas chambers were backed up, and corraling them and expending bullets was a waste of time. I always calm myself, so to speak, that the end came quicker because the body surface area was so small.

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Originally Posted by PlainJain View Post
.... If it was as painful as I imagine it to be I think I would involuntarily running and fighting for everything I was worth.
I agree that you would, as no doubt would I. Some somehow don't, in public social protest self-immolation. (Link is to Wiki.) The classic image is for most of us is the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Durc in Vietnam in the early 1960s. It is surprisingly "common" (very relatively speaking) today.
#42
Old 01-11-2013, 12:46 AM
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Watched the video. Fucking disgusting. However, I'm glad I did. I would rather know about this shit than not know about it. It gives me respect for law and order.
#43
Old 01-11-2013, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Infectedglory View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Arden

Wow, poor Elizabeth Stafford, at such a young age of 16 to be burned to death for being a simple accomplice. She has got to be one of the youngest people to be legally executed in such a gruesome manner, actually might be one of the youngest girl to die in the most painful manner. Has there ever been a younger girl who died a in a more painful manner?
A ten (maybe eleven) year old boy was burned at the stake in Munich in 1600. It's okay though. The rest of his family had been executed and burned at the stake a few months earlier. Look up the Pappenheimers sometime.
#44
Old 01-11-2013, 02:28 AM
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This scene is from the 2006 movie Silent Hill.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=tYo-1...tailpage#t=50s

(I have linked directly at 50 seconds into the video)

Cybil is suspended quite some distance from the fire and she dies slowly and painfully.
#45
Old 01-11-2013, 04:33 AM
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Just chiming in to say that Bishop John Hooper (mentioned upthread) is apparently a distant ancestor of my wife; if you go to Gloucester Folk museum you can still see the (alleged) stake.
http://mary-tudor.blogspot.co.uk/200...per-stake.html
#46
Old 01-11-2013, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Infectedglory View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Arden

Wow, poor Elizabeth Stafford, at such a young age of 16 to be burned to death for being a simple accomplice. She has got to be one of the youngest people to be legally executed in such a gruesome manner, actually might be one of the youngest girl to die in the most painful manner. Has there ever been a younger girl who died a in a more painful manner?
Yes.

Our collective human history is wrought with countless, unimaginable terror. No snark intended, but have you not heard of the Holocaust, Nanking, Rwanda? These are just in our most recent history. The list goes on and on.

Furthermore, on this topic, is an element of religion almost always involved in these things? I know I've never heard of torture being carried out in the name of Atheism, but is it the De-facto rule that religion always plays a part?

Last edited by panaccione; 01-11-2013 at 08:04 AM.
#47
Old 01-11-2013, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Scotty Mo View Post
Yes.

Our collective human history is wrought with countless, unimaginable terror. No snark intended, but have you not heard of the Holocaust, Nanking, Rwanda? These are just in our most recent history. The list goes on and on.

Furthermore, on this topic, is an element of religion almost always involved in these things? I know I've never heard of torture being carried out in the name of Atheism, but is it the De-facto rule that religion always plays a part?
Sometimes it's just plain sadism / racism / economic envy. Rwanda IIRC was more social than any religious component.

The Irish situation for example was more a nationalist movement, it just happened that one side was catholic and one side was protestant. The English Catholics were not really considered "brothers" by the Irish IIRC from the news. Then the IRA degenerated into a mafia-organization, liberating money from banks, collecting protection money, etc - since it costs money to pay rent and buy bullets and beer for all those guys.

Cambodia, OTOH - probably fits your scenario of an atheistic group setting out to destroy religion, along with any other signs of western influnece like actual education. (If you wore glasses, it meant you were likely using them to read - therefore, you are fertilizer.)

Come to think of it, most communist purges were atheist against others - most recently the Falung Gong persecution in China, but there's the Soviet suppression of religion, gulags, and their starvation of 3 million Ukrainian peasants who did not agree to the collectivisation; but I suppose starving babies over weeks and months is prefereable to tossing them on a fire.

Sadism is an equal opportunity employer - religion has little to do with it.
#48
Old 01-11-2013, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by The Great Cornholio View Post
Was it the Protestant priests Latimer and Ridley, burned in Oxford in 1554? Latimer died quickly, but Ridley suffered "great agony" until the flames were high enough for him to force his head into them, igniting a bag of gunpowder round his neck....
The story goes that a noted British historian was once very ill and bedridden, and complained to a nurse that his feet were too hot. The nurse testily said, "Well, no one ever died from having their feet too hot." The historian shot back, "Latimer and Ridley did!"

I've seen the monument in Oxford on the spot where they were executed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drunky Smurf View Post
... I've seen the video several times and I just watched it again.
Dear Lord, why?
#49
Old 01-11-2013, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotty Mo View Post

Furthermore, on this topic, is an element of religion almost always involved in these things? I know I've never heard of torture being carried out in the name of Atheism, but is it the De-facto rule that religion always plays a part?
"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
-Blaise Pascal

Last edited by RedSwinglineOne; 01-11-2013 at 03:04 PM.
#50
Old 01-11-2013, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Quoth Drunky Smurf:

And your doing a great disservice to everyone by making the choice for everyone.
To whom was this addressed?

Quote:
Quoth PlainJain:


Re-read my post. I said nothing about expecting anyone to watch it. I specially didn't include a link for that reason.

If you don't want to watch it, fine. But then don't comment on its veracity. There are several new stories covering the event that are googlable without having to watch the video.
You did say that you expected people to watch it if they were going to comment on its veracity. I see no logical reason for this: Watching it will not make anyone any more informed as to its veracity. I imagine that there are quite a few videos showing people burning to death on YouTube, and the vast majority of them would be fakes.

Now, if you want to argue that it's real because there are news sources reporting on the incident, that's reasonable. But why wasn't that your criticism in the first place? And why not include information on finding those news stories? "Africa" is a big place, and wouldn't do much to narrow down a search.
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