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I've been bouncing ideas for a new fic I'm plotting with triskellion and I'm looking for some help on one point of the story line. So LJ F-List, lend me a hand.

The Story Line
I'm working on a story line that has a character die for the first time to become immortal (Highlander style). His first death is caused because he is framed by a jealous husband of a woman that the character in question smiled at.


  • Set in 18th Century Europe (preferably Italy) circa 1700-1750

  • Valid reason the husband can frame the character that would result in the death penalty

  • Reason that would make the character scorned/resented by the community (public ridicule)

  • Method for the death sentence to be carried (other than beheading)

  • Enough time between death and character reviving for character to be buried in a shallow grave or something with the same effect (mass grave if more than one killed at same time?)

My Leanings
I'm leaning toward something religious or treason but I'm not sure what would result in the death penalty. I would like the death to be a public spectacle. And whatever the reason is, it needs to be something that a jealous man of a higher social class than the character could arrange.

What I've Searched
Google: 18th century death penalty; European Witch Trials; Reason for Death Penalty (and many variations of these)

I've looked at many of the first few pages of these including wikipedia links. I just haven't found anything that has jumped out at me yet.



( 15 Campfires — Leave a Comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
Please forgive me for this but, Wikipedia as a history source? OUCHIES!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, I'm over my historian histrionics now ;-D

Despite popular entertainment media religious themed executions, not all that common and often tied to politics. European Witch trials? death not very common in fact during James I reign Britain codified it's witchcraft laws and actually executing someone was pretty hard and rare, you were more likely to be jailed or whipped if found guilty in a court of law.

Death Penalty- generally you are looking at hanging, which was often considered a spectator sport. In fact when a text mentions a 'hanging tree' in europe it was normally actually a triangular scaffolding from which three men could be hanged from at once.

Treason- depending on how much you pissed a powerful person off very often could result in death. Beheading was generally only used for those of 'noble' blood so a commoner or a noble that fell into disgrace would be hanged. If you or your family were powerful you might get away with imprisonment or banishment. The Italian city states were fairly fond of banishment if they thought they might need you later.

While Italy of that time period wasn't my field of study there was plenty of politicking going on that your guy could be set up as working with a heavy hitter, after all the little guys are used as 'lessons'. He could be given papers to deliver for someone and it could be arranged to have him picked up and have the papers be revealed as state secrets or something of that sort, sort of a situational think (I loved the Count of Monto Cristo growing up)

Apr. 2nd, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
Don't worry... I don't rely on Wikipedia for my history... I use it as a jumping to get ideas and then go looking for the 'real' stuff. :-)

My history is based more on the art history angle. I could go on and on about paintings from that time period, but certain history points that didn't feature prominently in art escape me.

The paper transfer route could be promising. That would be fairly easy for the jealous guy to set up.

Hanging was my first choice for death since it has the public angle and could lead to the body being tossed in a shallow grave relatively quick like.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
Art History was never my thing, I much preferred political intrigues, cultural practices, and so on and so forth.

Now, the only problem with treason is that certain times and places they tended to display body parts as warnings to others but hey! Fanfic! Literary license trumps most facts ;-)

Paper route could also be used if you wanted to go with confidential info taken from one "Merchant Prince" and being delivered to another, those guys could be more powerful than the rulers of the city/island/kingdom/whatever it is in that section of Italy. In that scenario your setter-upper could even be the 'wronged' party. Major theft and betrayal, through in a little 'suspected' seditious(meaning almost anything) activity for flavor and you could get your execution.
Oh, and piracy is always good
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
Oh! The mind actually works!
If the guy just dying instead of being executed is okay you can expand the crimes and have the punishment be public flogging...... not unusual for that to lead to death, specially if it was a scourging as opposed to just flogging or whipping.
That way you could go simple robbery, and after how kind the 'wronged' party was to your dead guy, and you've got public scorn.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
Oooo..... Me thinks you might have struck on something here.

The only thing with that is... would his body have been buried right away or would it have been returned to his family (a wife) for a family burial?

I plan to have the wife stand by his side as he tries to say he is innocent of the crime. Then, once he dies and comes back to life, he tries to go back to her and that's when she turns on him because he is unnatural...
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:13 am (UTC)
Generally the 'upperclass' or 'nobility' not so great on the timely giving of bodies to people. However generally bodies are buried/burned/dumped in ocean as soon as possible for health reasons. This would be especially true in Italy which has suffered several plagues over the years due to being a central point on so many trade routes.
Also, on Highlander the length of time to 'recover' from death always seems to be just long enough for the writer's purpose ;-)
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Very true on the Highlander death recovery time. If I need five minutes, it will be five minutes... If I need longer... well....

So, if it is set near the ocean in Italy and he dies from his very public flogging. They don't take the time to arrange for him to go to the family. They just dump the body in the ocean. Do they take it further out via boat to prevent it from getting back to shore soon?

This could lead to several mini-deaths for the new immortal as he dies once or twice trying to make it back to shore.

In floggings, were they left with just pants and flogged on the bare back? Tied down? Do you have any links about it?
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:28 am (UTC)
The throwing into the sea thing is something I recall reading that they occasionally did in Venice, if on mainland probably dumped into a shallow grave, or a quick Funeral Mass and then a shallow grave.
If on a boat thought they would toss him over board.

Floggings, no shirt generally and the two most common positions that I recall would be tied to a post standing up, or on your knees slightly over a bench/table type deal. Partly it depends on what instrument is being used.

I'd have to look for links, all my subscriptions to online academic journals/archives have expired and most of my library deals with Latin America or the Middle East
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)
I'll have to ponder this tonight as I sleep (yes, I ponder fic ideas during sleep)...

Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:52 am (UTC)
Seems perfectly normal to me ;)
Apr. 2nd, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
They often skipped the funeral mass for criminals, especially if there was some notoriety involved. And they tended to be buried in unconsecrated ground. Didn't want the punishment to end quite yet... ;-D
Apr. 3rd, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
I think I may go with the burial in a shallow grave area.

However, that leads to a whole new issue. Would they have put him in some type casket (wooden) or just tossed his body in the dirt....?
Apr. 3rd, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
They'd just dump him in the dirt.
Jun. 22nd, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks, good stuff
Jun. 26th, 2009 03:47 am (UTC)
Thanks for the information|
Nice! Thanks to author this post
( 15 Campfires — Leave a Comment )

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