1968: Two Jordanians, a sergeant and a civilian

Add comment February 29th, 2016 Headsman

Soldier and Civilian Hanged By Jordan as Spies for Israel

AMMAN, Jordan, Feb. 29 — Two Jordanians, an army sergeant and a civilian, were publicly hanged at dawn today after having been convicted by a military tribunal on charges of spying for Israel.

The authorities said they had been caught in April, 1966, when the civilian, Mahmoud el-Haihi, 30 years old, was crossing into Jordan from Israel near his home in Tulkarm. He was said to have been carrying a message and money from Israeli military intelligence officer to Sgt. Fawzi Abdullah, 32, also from the Tulkarm area.

The death sentence was pronounced in January, 1967, and approved last month by King Hussein.

-New York Times, March 1, 1968

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Espionage,Execution,Hanged,History,Israel,Jordan,Public Executions,Soldiers,Spies

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1856: Auguste Chapdelaine, saintly casus belli

1 comment February 29th, 2012 Headsman

On February 29, 1856, local Chinese officials in Guangxi beheaded French missionary priest Auguste Chapdelaine — and handed his countrymen a pretext for war.

Chapdelaine (English Wikipedia page | French) had gone illegally to the Chinese interior to proselytize Christianity.

The local mandarin Zhang Mingfeng was no doubt disposed to take such an harsh line against this provocation by virtue of the ongoing, Christian-inspired Taiping Rebellion, which had originated right there in Guangxi and was in the process of engulfing all of southern China in one of history’s bloodiest conflicts.

So Chapdelaine and his associates were snapped up, put to a few days’ dreadful torture, and on this date a Chinese convert and Chapdelaine were both summarily beheaded. (A female convert, Agnes Tsaou-Kong, expired under torture around the same time.)

Pietistic accounts of believers’ last extremes are here and here.


(Images from this French page.)

It took months for word of this martyrdom to reach French consular officials, and many months more for the gears of international diplomacy to turn — but when they did so, France pressed a demand for reparations.

Since pere Chapdelaine had been acting illegally in the first place, the Qing’s obdurate Viceroy Ye(h) adamantly refused to offer Paris satisfaction.

By 1858, this intransigence sufficed to license French entry (alongside Britain) into the Second Opium War, from which the Europeans won by force of arms a noxious treaty guaranteeing their right to push Christianity in China, extracting a couple million silver taels in damages, and (of course) assuring their right to traffic opium into China.

It would be rather ungenerous to hold all the ugly imperial consequences personally against our day’s martyr. August Chapdelaine was canonized by the Catholic Church in 2000 as one of 120 Martyrs of China.

China was not impressed by this celebration of a onetime colonial catspaw, and met the Vatican’s “anti-China” celestial promotion announcement with one of its own — charging that Chapdelaine “collaborated with corrupt local officials, raped women and was notorious in those areas [where he preached].”

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Beheaded,China,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,France,God,History,Martyrs,Occupation and Colonialism,Religious Figures,Summary Executions,Torture

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1528: Patrick Hamilton, Scotland’s first Protestant

1 comment February 29th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1528, Lutheran Patrick Hamilton was condemned to death for heresy and immediately* burned at the stake outside St. Salvator’s Chapel in St. Andrews, Scotland.

The “first reformer” of Scotland — and practically the only one of note during the Reformation’s earliest phase — Hamilton sprang from noble stock and was studying in Paris just when Martin Luther’s doctrines roiled Europe’s ecclesiastical scene.

He traveled widely on the continent, visiting Luther himself along with a passel of the era’s humanists and reformers, returning to Scotland late in 1527 on what looks like the missionary equivalent of a suicide mission. Given a few weeks’ latitude to pontificate publicly, he had armed the guardians of the faith with more than enough evidence of his heterodoxy.

Hamilton was alive to the public relations potential of a gaudy public death for the faith. And he was right.

An opposing prelate would soon caution against making similar examples, noticing that “the reek of Maister Patrik Hammyltoun has infected as many as it blew upon.” In his ashes glowed the ember that would ignite the Scottish Reformation. The young** martyr bequeathed it his nation’s first Protestant text, Patrike’s Places

Nor is Hamilton’s legacy in St. Andrew’s strictly theological. The spot of his passion is marked with the initials “P.H.” on the street — a modest but powerful public testament to the courageous young man’s (ultimately fruitful) sacrifice.

* Though the sentence was put into effect immediately, a paucity of fuel made a weak fire, and Hamilton’s death consumed six agonizing hours on the spit.

** Only 23 or 24 at his death.

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Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Botched Executions,Burned,God,Heresy,Martyrs,Popular Culture,Public Executions,Religious Figures,Scotland,Summary Executions,The Supernatural

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