Decapitation

beheadeddecapitatedbeheadingdecapitatebeheaddecapitatesdecapitatingbeheadingsseveredsevered head
Decapitation is the complete separation of the head (caput) from the body.wikipedia
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Guillotine

guillotinedguillotiningbeheaded
The term beheading refers to the act of deliberately decapitating a person, either as a means of murder or as an execution; it may be accomplished with an axe, a sword, or a knife, or by mechanical means such as a guillotine.
A guillotine (, also, ) is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading.

Capital punishment

death penaltyexecutionexecuted
The term beheading refers to the act of deliberately decapitating a person, either as a means of murder or as an execution; it may be accomplished with an axe, a sword, or a knife, or by mechanical means such as a guillotine.
"of the head", derived via the Latin capitalis from caput, "head") in this context alluded to execution by beheading.

Gibbeting

gibbetgibbetedgibbets
This might be done to take the head as a trophy, for public display, to make the deceased more difficult to identify, for cryonics, or for other, more esoteric reasons.
A gibbet is any instrument of public execution (including guillotine, executioner's block, impalement stake, hanging gallows, or related scaffold), but gibbeting refers to the use of a gallows-type structure from which the dead or dying bodies of criminals were hung on public display to deter other existing or potential criminals.

Hanging

hangedhangdeath by hanging
Accidental decapitation can be the result of an explosion, a car or industrial accident, improperly administered execution by hanging or other violent injury.
Instead of everyone falling the same standard distance, the person's height and weight were used to determine how much slack would be provided in the rope so that the distance dropped would be enough to ensure that the neck was broken, but not so much that the person was decapitated.

Executioner

hangmanheadsmancommon hangman
An executioner who carries out executions by beheading is sometimes called a headsman.
Common terms for executioners derived from forms of capital punishment—though they often also performed other physical punishments—include hangman (hanging) and headsman (beheading).

Executioner's sword

swordchoppersword of execution
If the headsman's axe or sword was sharp and his aim was precise, decapitation was quick and was presumed to be a relatively painless form of death.
An executioner's sword is a sword designed specifically for decapitation of condemned criminals (as opposed to combat).

Halifax, West Yorkshire

HalifaxHalifax, YorkshireHalifax, England
Early versions of the guillotine included the Halifax Gibbet, which was used in Halifax, England, from 1286 until the 17th century, and the "Maiden", employed in Edinburgh from the 16th through the 18th centuries.
Halifax was notorious for its gibbet, an early form of guillotine used to execute criminals by decapitation, that was last used in 1650.

Saudi Arabia

SaudiKingdom of Saudi ArabiaKSA
The national laws of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Qatar permit beheading, but in practice, Saudi Arabia is the only country that continues to behead its offenders regularly as a punishment for crime.
Capital and physical punishments imposed by Saudi courts, such as beheading, stoning (to death), amputation, crucifixion and lashing, as well as the sheer number of executions have been strongly criticized.

Treason

high treasontraitortraitors
In Nazi Germany, the Fallbeil was reserved for common criminals and people convicted of political crimes, including treason.
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).

Tahvo Putkonen

It was last used when murderer Tahvo Putkonen was executed in 1825, the last execution in peacetime in Finland.
On 8 July 1825 Putkonen was beheaded, and his execution is believed to be the last example of capital punishment in Finland during peacetime.

Disembowelment

disemboweldisemboweledevisceration
Decapitation was historically performed as the second step in seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment).
The act of decapitation by a second (kaishaku-nin) was added to this ritual suicide in later times in order to shorten the suffering of the samurai or leader, an attempt at rendering the ritual more humane.

2010 Sikh beheadings by the Taliban

beheadedThree Sikhs were beheaded
Three Sikhs were beheaded by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2010.
On February 22, 2010, three Sikh men were said to have been beheaded by Taliban groups in the FATA region of Pakistan and their heads sent to a gurudwara in Peshawar, with one of them identified as Jaspal Singh.

Oda Nobunaga

Nobunaga OdaNobunagaGenma Lord
One of the most brutal decapitations was that of Sugitani Zenjubō, who attempted to assassinate Oda Nobunaga, a prominent daimyō, in 1570.
One aimed a spear at him, which Yoshimoto deflected with his sword, but the second swung his blade and cut off Imagawa's head.

Hanged, drawn and quartered

hanged, drawn, and quarteredhanging, drawing and quarteringdrawing and quartering
The Chinese however had other punishments, such as dismembering the body into multiple pieces (similar to English quartering). The last actual execution by beheading was of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat on 9 April 1747, while a number of convicts (typically traitors sentenced to drawing and quartering, a method which had already been discontinued) were beheaded posthumously up to the early 19th century.
The convicted traitor was fastened to a hurdle, or wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution, where he was then hanged (almost to the point of death), emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded, and quartered (chopped into four pieces).

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat

Lord LovatSimon FraserSimon Fraser, Lord Lovat
The last actual execution by beheading was of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat on 9 April 1747, while a number of convicts (typically traitors sentenced to drawing and quartering, a method which had already been discontinued) were beheaded posthumously up to the early 19th century.
Lovat was among the Highlanders defeated at the Battle of Culloden and convicted of treason against the Crown, following which he was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded.

Samurai

bushibukewarrior
Samurai were often allowed to decapitate soldiers who had fled from battle, as it was considered cowardly.
The Shikken of the Kamakura shogun, Hōjō Tokimune responded by having the Mongolian diplomats brought to Kamakura and then beheading them.

Seppuku

harakirihara-kiriritual suicide
Decapitation was historically performed as the second step in seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment).
The kaishakunin would then perform kaishaku, a cut in which the warrior was partially decapitated.

Cephalophore

cephalophorescarry their own severed headspicked up his head
Arguments for a Celtic cult of the severed head include the many sculptured representations of severed heads in La Tène carvings, and the surviving Celtic mythology, which is full of stories of the severed heads of heroes and the saints who carry their own severed heads, right down to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where the Green Knight picks up his own severed head after Gawain has struck it off, just as St. Denis carried his head to the top of Montmartre.
In Christian art, this was usually meant to signify that the subject in question had been martyred by beheading.

Denis

Saint DenisSt DenisSt. Denis
Arguments for a Celtic cult of the severed head include the many sculptured representations of severed heads in La Tène carvings, and the surviving Celtic mythology, which is full of stories of the severed heads of heroes and the saints who carry their own severed heads, right down to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where the Green Knight picks up his own severed head after Gawain has struck it off, just as St. Denis carried his head to the top of Montmartre.
According to his hagiographies, he was bishop of Paris in the third century and, together with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, was martyred for his faith by decapitation.

Fritz Haarmann

Fritz HaarmanFriedrich "Fritz" HaarmannFriedrich Heinrich Karl "Fritz" Haarmann
Haarmann was found guilty of 24 of the 27 murders for which he was tried and sentenced to death by beheading in December 1924.

Headhunting

headhuntersheadhunterhead-hunting
This might be done to take the head as a trophy, for public display, to make the deceased more difficult to identify, for cryonics, or for other, more esoteric reasons.

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Earl of EssexRobert DevereuxRobert Devereux, Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Mary, Queen of Scots required three strikes at their respective executions.

Peter Kürten

Peter KurtenDüsseldorf RipperPeter Kuerten
Described by Karl Berg (forensic scientist) as "the king of the sexual perverts," Kürten was found guilty of nine counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder for which he was sentenced to death by beheading in April 1931.

Nicolas Jacques Pelletier

Nicolas J. PelletierNicolas Pelletier
The first person executed by the guillotine (in France) was highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier in April 1792.
The execution was stayed, however, after the National Assembly made decapitation the only legal method of capital punishment.

Maiden (guillotine)

MaidenThe MaidenScottish Maiden
Early versions of the guillotine included the Halifax Gibbet, which was used in Halifax, England, from 1286 until the 17th century, and the "Maiden", employed in Edinburgh from the 16th through the 18th centuries.