Tag Archives: beheading

HISTORY IS BRUTAL

(Our youngest grandson, Leeson, who turns 2 in December, deleted this morning’s article. Here is an attempt at a re-write.)

Sword

Bernard Cornwell is an American novelist who has written dozens of books on English history. I’ve just finished his first novel on Alfred the Great, “The Last Kingdom,” set in the ninth century when the Danes (Vikings) were raiding England and wanted to take over the country. England at the time was more than one kingdom. The Danes conquered all the other kingdoms until finally only Alfred’s kingdom of Wessex, in the south and west of the island, survived. If the Danes had succeeded in conquering the last kingdom, they would have killed all the English males and there would have been no England.

It’s not surprising that Alfred is the only English monarch described as “the Great.” Without him, the country would not exist today.

The Danes at the time were ruthless. They still worshipped the pagan gods of Thor and Woden. Because they were usually victorious against the “Christian” (Catholic) English, they considered their gods superior to the Christian god. They were particularly fond of raiding churches and killing priests (churches had more money than anybody else).

Their favorite method of killing was beheading, a subject that has been in our news a great deal lately.

Coincidentally, the non-fiction book I was reading at the same time as Cornwell’s was “When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World,” by Hugh Kennedy, a far more challenging read. I remember having a problem reading Russian literature in my teens because I could not keep track of all those Russian names; believe me, Russian names are a lot easier than Arabic.

This book is set in the same time period as Cornwell’s. As in “The Last Kingdom,” there are plenty of beheadings, the preferred punishment for opponents and anybody the caliph did not like.

Having said that, the Muslim world was far more advanced than England at the time.

The Danes were still a problem two centuries later when Saxon King Harold took his troops north and defeated the invading Danes at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, which was fought on the 25th September, 1066. He then had to rush south to fight the invading Normans at the Battle of Hastings. Harold lost the battle and lost his life. England came under Norman rule.

Beheadings continued. During the Peasants Revolt in 1381, the rebels beheaded any law students they could find. In turn, the rebels themselves were later beheaded by the royal authorities.

Henry VIII, in the sixteenth century, was fond of sending people to face the axe-man, including two of his wives.

The most famous victim was Anne Boleyn, his second wife. “Compassionately,” Henry sent for the best swordsman in France to come over and do the final deed, as he did not want his wife to suffer. A good swordsman could kill with just one swipe of the sword – an axe-man might need a few swipes, thereby prolonging the agony. Of course, if he had really been compassionate, he would have sent her into exile. He did not have the option of sending her to a convent as he had closed them all down.

A little over a century later, King Charles I was beheaded in 1649. A republic was proclaimed under Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell, in turn, was beheaded when the monarchy was restored but by that time he had been dead for well over a year!

Decapitation was the punishment for treason. It was reserved for the nobility. The common man had to endure being hung, drawn, and quartered, as was William Wallace, the famous Scot. The last English noble to suffer decapitation was in 1747. In Scotland, the last beheading was in 1889.

The French were still using the guillotine until a few decades ago. The last public execution was in 1939.  Interestingly, witnesses say that people would utter a word or two or blink their eyes after they lost their heads. Just for a couple seconds, that’s all.

As a child I often visited the city of Lincoln and loved walking around its famous castle. One high point in the castle wall is where public hangings took place until the mid-nineteenth century. Charles Dickens witnessed the last one. There was a pub across the street, which offered a perfect view of the hangings. It was called “The Hangman’s Noose” and did a roaring trade whenever anybody faced the actual hangman. Hanging had replaced decapitation as the preferred form of capital punishment over a century earlier.

The law followed the biblical guideline found in Ecclesiastes 8:11 (and elsewhere):  “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

Typically, a trial was held within two months of a capital offence. Execution then followed within 90 days, after just one appeal. In stark contrast today, in the US, somebody can be on death row for over twenty years, making the death penalty far less of a deterrent.

Back to the two books: I recommend Cornwell’s book. It’s a good read. Kennedy’s is a more difficult read and is only for those who are seriously interested in the subject.

Because the two books include many beheadings, and because I have been reading them at the same time as beheadings have been on the news, I studied into the subject more deeply. The result is this article. I hope you found it interesting.

LONDON BEHEADING POINTS TO THE FUTURE

Palmira Silva

The death of an 82-year-old great-grandmother would normally be found on the “Obituary” page of the newspaper.

But, a few days ago, the beheading of Palmira Silva in Edmonton, a suburb of London, made the front pages, at least in England. Mrs. Silva, originally from Italy, was sat in her back garden when a 25-year-old stranger entered and beheaded her. According to newspapers, he was a fairly recent convert to Islam.

For some reason, this was not reported by American media. A few hours later, one news program was discussing the “horrific beheadings” of two American journalists but did not mention the London incident.

Admittedly, there is a big difference between the two.

The journalists were in the Middle East of their own free will. While one can admire and respect their devotion to the news and telling the truth about what is really happening, nevertheless they were in a very dangerous part of the world and knew the risks involved.

On the other hand, the elderly great grandmother was in her garden in suburbia when she was brutally murdered in a gruesome manner.

The public needs to be made aware of this because she won’t be the last victim.

A little over a year ago, an off-duty British soldier was similarly attacked and beheaded on the streets of London. A few years ago, Theo van Gogh, a film producer, was similarly killed in Amsterdam.

The King of Saudi Arabia predicted this weekend that within a month ISIS terrorists will have reached the streets of Europe and, one month later, the United States. Terrorist acts perpetrated by ISIS will follow.

British and American civilians need to be aware of this danger – yet life goes on as if nothing is happening.

Jesus Christ said in Luke 17:26-27:

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. “

It seems that most people will be oblivious to what’s going on – partly thanks to our media.

JAMES FOLEY’S BEHEADING

James Foley beheading

I’ve started watching “Civilization,” a 1967 TV series which was a personal look at the history of western civilization by Kenneth Clark, who died in 1983. I remember watching it when it was originally shown. It’s good to see it again.

In the first episode, Lord Clark talked about how the barbarians destroyed Rome. They came in waves over the course of centuries. The last barbarian invasion was by Muslims in the seventh and eighth centuries.

Now, in 1967 Lord Clark could get away with describing the Muslims as barbarians. Today, he would be prosecuted for failing to be politically correct. He should rather have described the Muslims as people of an equally valid but different faith, or words to that effect.

But, if he were alive and able to watch the news today, I think he would still be tempted to use the word “barbarians.”

After the beheading of US journalist James Foley, what other term can be used?

In the western media, there is concern to arrest the man responsible, as if only one person would do such a thing. This was not an act of an individual; this is a movement, which is gaining ground. As a BBC reporter put it tonight: IS (Islamic State) is “the fastest growing terrorist entity of our time.” Their dream is to reestablish the Caliphate that ruled the Islamic world immediately after the death of Mohammed and continued until the fall of the Ottoman Empire 90 years ago. At its height the Caliphate ruled the Arab world, North Africa and the Balkans right up to the gates of Vienna.

Interviews on the streets of London show considerable support amongst British Muslims for the Caliphate. There is great disillusionment with the western way of life. Young UK jihadists operating in Syria and Iraq speak enthusiastically of beheading infidels while in the same conversation lamenting how much they miss certain British television programs and M&M’s!

It remains to be seen whether IS is fulfilling the prophecy of the first and second horsemen, depicted in Revelation 6. “ . . . I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer . . . Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.” (verses 1 – 4)  Famine and pestilence follow.

When asked by His disciples what would be the sign of His coming, Jesus Christ warned first of false religion (Matt 24:5). IS certainly fits that description. Islam itself is a false religion, in spite of what multiculturalists have been saying for forty years. IS is the most extreme form of Islam, totally intolerant of other faiths.

The so-called Caliphate already controls a territory the size of Pennsylvania, surrounded by other Arab territories and Iran. The West will not continue to bomb them indefinitely, at which point they will expand and conquer a bigger area.

They know they cannot defeat the West without direct attacks upon western targets.   When the American and British jihadists return to their homelands, they will likely continue with suicide bombings and street beheadings (remember Lee Rigby), striking fear into westerners who have never seen anything like it.

The beheading yesterday of James Foley was the first direct blow against America.   Others will certainly follow.

This could turn out to be the greatest threat ever to the US, UK, and other western nations.