Decimated: Executed Today’s Tenth Annual Report


Mattia Preti, The Crucifixion of St. Andrew (1651)

Halloween 2017 makes it ten damn years since Executed Today was born howling. Has it really been that long?

Our inconceivable dekalog of 3,650 posts … plus the leap days … plus the meta content … and for some reason playing cards … somehow just keeps the tumbrils rolling day upon numbing day. That’s how it goes, until it stops.

It’s been the custom on these anniversaries to bask in the year’s signal events, like our most-beloved tweet that coincidentally fell the day after Donald J. Trump implausibly joined the roster of U.S. presidents.

But I feel ever less entitled to bask as I become ever more conscious that this death has a mounting chorus of its own, and here I the mere scrivener cling by its netherworldly quills, charged to voice the wails of an endless sea of damned souls. There will never be days enough, and never hours in the day enough, to do justice. This is the curse. Write.

The other reason militating against celebration is that, as any regular reader has surely noticed, I these days often struggle to keep to my calendar, including for this very post. That’s not for any want of material or inclination but executioners too grow old; once there was a bottomless energy and a content reservoir running weeks ahead of time and now there is … the other thing.

To some extent this is the consequence of changing circumstances in life outside the blog, and to some extent it is intrinsic to the wild conceit of holding out a topical almanac like this for an entire decade. By whatever reason, a silver age holds no dishonor but one cannot help think longingly of the gold.

Morbid reader, it is you who carries us onward. Whether you have come by this site recently or have walked with us for years on end, your surprising and gratifying interest — nearing 20 million pageviews! — have made the journey worth every step.

Trick or treat! Year 11 awaits.

1860: Johannes Nathan, the last ordinary execution in the Netherlands

On this date in 1860, Johannes Nathan was hanged in Maastricht for murder.

Nathan murdered his mother-in-law over a pig. Most executions in the Netherlands at this point were commuted by royal prerogative but it was felt that Nathan’s acknowledgment of guilt was late, partial, and insincere — rendering him an unfit object for mercy.

Although the execution took place on the Markt, it “was not a public amusement as it was in the Middle Ages: Nathan walked through dead streets, the curtains were closed in the houses, children were held in.”

The Netherlands formally abolished the death penalty for ordinary criminal offenses in 1870; the only executions since then took place under 20th century wartime occupation, or in revenge for same.