Death by burning

The "baptism by fire" of Old Believer leader Avvakum in 1682
Nero's Torches.
Tanit with a lion's head
An 18th-century illustration of a wicker man. Engraving from A Tour in Wales written by Thomas Pennant.
The burning of the Cathar heretics
Burning of the Knights Templar, 1314
Jews burned to death in the Strasbourg massacre
The burning of a 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist, Anneken Hendriks, who was charged with heresy.
Burning of two homosexuals, Richard Puller von Hohenburg and Anton Mätzler, at the stake outside Zürich, 1482 (Spiezer Schilling)
Burning of three witches in Baden (1585), from the Wickiana Collection
Jan Hus burnt at the stake
Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake, by Hermann Stilke (1843)
Execution of Mariana de Carabajal (converted Jew), Mexico City, 1601
Native Americans scalping and roasting their prisoners, published in 1873
Perillos being forced into the brazen bull that he built for Phalaris
Dózsa's execution (contemporary woodcut)
Hulagu (left) imprisons Caliph Al-Musta'sim among his treasures to starve him to death. Medieval depiction from "Le livre des merveilles", 15th century.
Theodor de Bry engraving of a Conquistador being executed by gold
A Hindu widow burning herself with the corpse of her husband, 1820s
Ceremony of Burning a Hindu Widow with the Body of her Late Husband, from Pictorial History of China and India, 1851

Execution method involving combustion or exposure to extreme heat.

- Death by burning

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Crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance.

A 17th-century illustration of the leaders of the Gunpowder Plot, a failed assassination attempt against James I of England.
Cartoon depicting Václav Bělský (1818–1878), Mayor of Prague from 1863 until 1867, in charge of the city during Prussian occupation in July 1866. Some forces wanted to try him for high treason (left: "What some men wished" – "Dr. Bělský for high treason"), but he got a full confidence from the Council of Prague (right: "but what they did not expect" – "address of confidence from the city of Prague").
5 January 1895: The treason conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus.
The Czechoslovak legionnaires in Italy executed after being captured by the Austro-Hungarian forces.
Engraving depicting the execution of Sir Thomas Armstrong in 1684 for complicity in the Rye House Plot; he was hanged, drawn and quartered.
The Indische Legion attached to the German Army was created in 1941, mainly from disaffected Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army.
Iva Toguri, known as Tokyo Rose, was tried for treason after World War II for her broadcasts to American troops.
A young Harki, an Algerian who served the French during the Algerian War, circa 1961

In English law, high treason was punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered (men) or burnt at the stake (women), although beheading could be substituted by royal command (usually for royalty and nobility).


Method of final disposition of a dead body through burning.

An electric cremator in Austria
Bronze container of ancient cremated human remains, complete with votive offering
The Aztec emperor Ahuitzotl being cremated. Surrounding him are a necklace of jade and gold, an ornament of quetzal feathers, a copilli (crown), his name glyph, and three sacrificial vassals to accompany him in the afterlife.
An 1820 painting showing a Hindu funeral procession in South India. The pyre is to the left, near a river, the lead mourner is walking in front, the dead body is wrapped in white and is being carried to the cremation pyre, relatives and friends follow.
The Woking Crematorium, built in 1878 as the first facility in England after a long campaign led by the Cremation Society of Great Britain.
The trial of William Price confirmed that cremation was legal in the United Kingdom. He was himself cremated after his death in 1893.
Advertisement for woollen envelopes to wrap the body in for cremation, appearing in the Undertaker's Journal, 1889.
A sketch from the Vrba–Wetzler report, showing the rough layout of the crematoria used at Auschwitz, one of the several Nazi German extermination camps in occupied Poland
Cremation of a human corpse inside an electric cremator
A relic found amid the ashes of Chan Kusalo (the Buddhist Patriarch of Northern Thailand) is placed inside a chedi shaped vial and displayed inside Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai.
Bone-picking ceremony at a Japanese funeral
Cremated ashes still in plastic bag
A U.S. Navy sailor scatters cremated remains at sea. Visible is the clear plastic inner bag containing the remains, and next to it the labeled black plastic box that contained the inner bag. This is normal in American packaging.
Cremation allows for very economical use of cemetery space. Mini-gravestones in Helsinki.
Cremation of the dead by Hindus in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
(Germany) A piece of fire clay used for identifying the ash after burning the dead body
(Germany) A cinerary urn. The laces are used to lower the urn into the ground
(Germany) A sealed cinerary urn, showing the ash capsule containing the remains of the dead, along with the name and dates
(Germany) The ash capsule
(Germany) An open ash capsule showing the remains of the dead
(Germany) Ash capsule and cinerary urn after 15 years
Burning ghats of Manikarnika, at Varanasi, India.
Cremation of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat, 31 January 1948. It was attended by Jawaharlal Nehru, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, Maulana Azad, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Sarojini Naidu and other national leaders. His son Devdas Gandhi lit the pyre.<ref>Cremation of Gandhi's body, JAMES MICHAELS, January 31, 1948</ref>
Cremation process at Pashupatinath temple.
A Hindu cremation rite in Nepal. The samskara above shows the body wrapped in saffron red on a pyre.
Cremation taking place at Pashupatinath Temple.

Cremation was sometimes used by Catholic authorities as part of punishment for accused heretics, which included burning at the stake.

Capital punishment

State-sanctioned practice of killing a person as a punishment for a crime.

Anarchist Auguste Vaillant about to be guillotined in France in 1894
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883). Roman Circus Maximus.
Beheading of John the Baptist, woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld, 1860
The Death of Socrates (1787), in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
The breaking wheel was used during the Middle Ages and was still in use into the 19th century.
The burning of Jakob Rohrbach, a leader of the peasants during the German Peasants' War.
Antiporta of Dei delitti e delle pene (On Crimes and Punishments), 1766 ed.
Mexican execution by firing squad, 1916
50 Poles tried and sentenced to death by a Standgericht in retaliation for the assassination of 1 German policeman in Nazi-occupied Poland, 1944
Emperor Shomu banned the death penalty in Japan in 724.
Peter Leopold II abolished the death penalty throughout Tuscany in 1786, making it the first nation in modern history to do so.
Mother Catherine Cauchés (center) and her two daughters Guillemine Gilbert (left) and Perotine Massey (right) with her infant son burning for heresy
The Red Guard prisoners are being executed by the Whites in Varkaus, North Savonia, during the 1918 Finnish Civil War.
A sign at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport warns arriving travelers that drug trafficking is a capital crime in the Republic of China (photo taken in 2005)
Execution of a war criminal in Germany in 1946
A gurney at San Quentin State Prison in California formerly used for executions by lethal injection
Capital punishment was abolished in the United Kingdom in part because of the case of Timothy Evans, who was executed in 1950 after being wrongfully convicted of two murders that had in fact been committed by his landlord, John Christie. The case was considered vital in bolstering opposition, which limited the scope of the penalty in 1957 and abolished it completely, for murder, in 1965.
Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union affirms the prohibition on capital punishment in the EU
Signatories to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR: parties in dark green, signatories in light green, non-members in grey

In pre-modern times the executions themselves often involved torture with cruel and painful methods, such as the breaking wheel, keelhauling, sawing, hanging, drawing, and quartering, burning at the stake, flaying, slow slicing, boiling alive, impalement, mazzatello, blowing from a gun, schwedentrunk, and scaphism.


Christian bishop of Smyrna.

Polycarp miraculously extinguishing the fire burning the city of Smyrna
Saint Polycarp

Polycarp was burned at the stake and pierced with a spear for refusing to burn incense to the Roman emperor.

Jan Hus

Czech theologian and philosopher who became a Church reformer and the inspiration of Hussitism, a key predecessor to Protestantism, and a seminal figure in the Bohemian Reformation.

Woodcut of Jan Hus, 1587
German or Austrian 16th Century. John Huss Centenary Medal [reverse] . Silver, 4.33 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Samuel H. Kress Collection
Jan Hus preaching, illumination from a Czech manuscript, 1490s
Jan Hus at the Council of Constance. 19th-century painting by Karl Friedrich Lessing
The monument in Konstanz, where reformer Jan Hus was executed (1862)
The oldest-known representation of Jan Hus is from the Martinická Bible 1430.
Jan Hus at the stake, Jena codex (c. 1500)
Jan Žižka leading troops of Hussites
Some two thousand of Hus's followers thrown into the Kutná Hora mines by pro-Catholic townsmen
Luther and Hus serving Communion under both kinds together, picture from 16th-century Saxony demonstrating the affinity of Lutherans with Hussites
Jan Hus Memorial at Old Town Square in Prague built in 1915
Painting of Jan Hus at the Council of Constance by Václav Brožík (1883)
Preparing the execution of Jan Hus
Alphonse Mucha: Master Jan Hus Preaching at the Bethlehem Chapel: Truth prevails, 1916; part of the 20-painting work, The Slav Epic
Bethlehem Chapel (exterior) in Prague
Bethlehem Chapel (interior) in Prague
Medallion Portrait of Jan Hus
Preparing to burn Jan Hus at the stake
Medallion of Jan Hus, Showing his portrait and execution
Profile of Jan Hus on the Giordano Bruno Statue

On 6 July 1415, he was burned at the stake for heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church.


Group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy, conducting trials of suspected heretics.

A 19th-century depiction of Galileo before the Holy Office, by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury
Tribunal at the Inquisitor's Palace in Birgu, Malta
Emblem of the Spanish Inquisition (1571)
Pedro Berruguete, Saint Dominic Guzmán presiding over an Auto da fe (c. 1495). Many artistic representations falsely depict torture and burning at the stake during the auto-da-fé (Portuguese for "Act of Faith").
A copper engraving from 1685: "Die Inquisition in Portugall"

Those local laws included proscriptions against certain religious crimes (heresy, etc.), and the punishments included death by burning, although the penalty was more usually banishment or imprisonment for life, which was generally commuted after a few years.

Council of Constance

15th-century ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418 in the Bishopric of Constance in present-day Germany.

Emperor Sigismund, his second wife, Barbara of Celje, and their daughter, Elizabeth of Luxembourg, at the Council of Constance
Bishops debating with the pope at the Council of Constance
Imperia, erected in 1993 to commemorate the Council
Painting of Jan Hus before the Council of Constance by Václav Brožík

The secular court sentenced him to be burned to death at the stake.

Joan of Arc

Considered a heroine of France for her role in the siege of Orléans and the coronation of Charles VII of France during the Hundred Years' War against England.

Historiated initial depicting Joan of Arc from Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490, allegedly dated to the second half of the 15th century, but it may be presumably a later art forgery.
Joan's birthplace in Domrémy is now a museum. The village church where she attended Mass is to the right, behind the trees.
Joan on horseback in a 1505 illustration
Late 15th-century depiction of the siege of Orléans of 1429, from Les Vigiles de Charles VII by Martial d'Auvergne
Joan of Arc in the protocol of the Parliament of Paris (1429). Drawing by Clément de Fauquembergue. French National Archives
Late 15th-century miniature from Vigiles du roi Charles VII. The citizens of Troyes hand over the city keys to the Dauphin and Joan.
Coronation of Charles VII at Reims Cathedral, in the presence of Joan of Arc and armoured men-at-arms (15th century)
Joan captured by the Burgundians at Compiègne. Mural in the Panthéon, Paris, c. undefined1886–1890
The keep of the castle of Rouen, surviving remnant of the fortress where Joan was imprisoned during her trial. It has since become known as the "Joan of Arc Tower".
Joan of Arc interrogated in her prison cell by the Cardinal of Winchester, by Hippolyte Delaroche, 1824, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, France
Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake, by Hermann Stilke (1843)
Pope Callixtus III granted permission for Joan's rehabilitation trial in 1455 after receiving a petition from her family.
A 1903 engraving of Joan of Arc by Albert Lynch featured in the Figaro Illustré magazine
Jeanne d'Arc, by Eugène Thirion (1876). Late 19th century images such as this often had political undertones because of French territorial cessions to Germany in 1871. (Chautou, Church of Notre Dame).
Joan of Arc in armor, from the New Orleans copy of Fremient's statue Jeanne D'Arc
Helmeted head from a late Gothic statue of a saint, which was once believed to have been modeled after Joan of Arc.

After successfully leading several French military actions, she was captured, handed over to English authorities, convicted as a heretic, and burnt at the stake in 1431.

Tamar (Genesis)

The daughter-in-law of Judah , as well as the mother of two of his children: the twins Perez and Zerah.

Judah and Tamar, school of Rembrandt
Judah and Tamar, Horace Vernet
Aert de Gelder, Tamar and Judah, 1667

Upon hearing this news, Judah ordered that she be burned to death.

Mary I of England

Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death in 1558.

Portrait by Antonis Mor, 1554
Catherine of Aragon, 1520
Mary at the time of her engagement to Emperor Charles V. She is wearing a rectangular brooch inscribed with "The Emperour".
Emperor Charles V, Mary's cousin and later father-in-law
Mary in 1544
1545 painting showing left to right 'Mother Jak', Mary, Edward, Henry VIII, Jane Seymour (posthumous), Elizabeth and Will Somers (court fool)
Edward VI declared his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, his heir. Lady Jane was married to Lord Guildford Dudley, a son of the English politician John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
Philip of Spain by Titian
Mary and her husband, Philip
Gold medal showing "Mary I, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith", 1555
Mary by Hans Eworth, 1554. She wears a jewelled pendant bearing a pearl set beneath two diamonds.
Philip and Mary sixpence
Mary shilling
Portrait by Hans Eworth
Arms of Mary I, impaled with those of her husband, Philip II of Spain

Her attempt to restore to the Church the property confiscated in the previous two reigns was largely thwarted by Parliament, but during her five-year reign, Mary had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian persecutions.