Executioner’s sword

About the object

The new laws of the city made provision for capital punishment by beheading for murders, rebels and street robbers. Decapitation was also meted out for other serious crimes. In contrast to death by hanging, the wheel or burning at the stake, it was considered an honourable punishment, which could therefore even be imposed as a kind of »reprieve«. Executions were initially held on the south side of the cathedral square. In the 16th century, the open field in the southwest of the city along the Basler Strasse was designated the site for execution by decapitation; executions still took place there in the 18th century.

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