Altar Modelling

Military History Note No:10, October 2009

Ottoman’s terrible way of punishment

Execution by a hook
ike all other states in history, Ottomans too, were not hesitant to use violence for certain aims. There were different forms of violence used in order to reach certain political and military targets. The methods used would span from simply cutting the head to throwing into deep seas with stones tied to one’s feet and to strangling. And there were some other methods which were considered worse and more brutal than those listed as these methods would not grant instant death to the victim and cause unbearable pain. One such method is implement while the other most terrible method is the execution by a hook.

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Hooks, victims and the executioners Source: Yıllarboyu Tarih journal, February 1981

Terrible method of punishment
Just like all other empires, Ottomans tried to find a fine balance between ‘violence’ and ‘tolerance’ to accomplish its political and military objectives. Tolerance and mercy had been granted fully to those who would not resist against Ottoman forward march and surrender castles and cities. If a promise had been given by the Sultan in terms of protection of the surrenders lives, possessions and religious freedoms, then this was kept strictly. However, if a castle or city resists, kill Ottoman soldiers, than Ottoman state

showed its furious wrath in the fullest manner to those who had risen against their rule. 1 In order to save its own soldiers, to minimize losses, sometimes high profile executions were carried out to deter potential rebels and stop them from launching uprisings.

“The Gaunche: a sort of punishment in use among the Turks” Depiction of Ottoman hook in 18th century European drawing Source: Original engraving from the 1761 book Voyage into the Levant from Altar Modelling archive

Örnek olarak bakınız Celal oğlu Mustafa, Tabakatülmemalik ve derecetülmesalik: Osmanlı İmparatorluğunun yükselme devrinde Türk ordusunun savaşları ve devletin iç ve dış siyasası, Türkçeleştiren Emekli Bnb. Sadettin Tokdemir, Askri Matbaa, İstanbul, 1937 ve Neşri, Kitab-ı Cihannüma, Neşri Tarihi, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 1995, Cilt I-II.

1

Hooks were usually placed on higher places, most commonly, on wooden structures specially built for this purpose. The hooks on the horizontal pillar resemble to the ones used by butchers to hang meat. The victim, who would be usually naked, would be pulled upwards to the top with ropes and then the executioners on the ground would suddenly let the ropes loose causing the prisoner to fall on one of the hooks beneath him randomly. If the victim was lucky, he would take a lethal wound and die instantly. But this was a small possibility. Majority of victims would get hanged from their non-lethal parts of their bodies and had to wait in pain there for many hours, even days. No one could intervene from that moment on and the victim would be taken out of hook only when he is definitely dead. The wooden structures for hooks were usually erected in populous areas of cities to display the executions, to set an example for those who may attempt to commit crime. Eminonu and Parmakkapı in Istanbul were the places that are known to host such executions. 2 Bandits and especially pirates were executed with this method. 3

Waiting till you die on the hook Source: “Tarih Boyunca İşkence”, Panaroma journal, April 1993

2

Midhat Sertoğlu, Resimli Osmanlı Tarihi Ansiklopedisi, İstanbul Matbaası, 1958, s 65 ve “Tarih Boyunca İşkence”, Panaroma dergisi, Nisan 1993 3 “Tarih Boyunca İşkence”, Panaroma dergisi, Nisan 1993

A different type of hook, this time put on a wall. Source: Midhat Sertoğlu, Resimli Osmanlı Tarihi Ansiklopedisi, İstanbul Matbaası, 1958, p 65

According to French Jean Thevenot’s writings in the 17th century, if the hook pierces the victim’s body in the center, there is no problem as he instantly dies. However, if the hook pierces a non-lethal part of the body, then the death is not sudden and victims had to wait to die, sometimes as long as 3 days on the hook, starving and from thirst as well the bleeding. According to French Thevenot, this method of execution was so brutal; Turks rarely resort to this method.4

4

Jean Thevenot, 1655- 1656’da Türkiye, Tercüman 1001 temel eser, İstanbul 1978, s 116

A detail from 1761 engraving “The Gaunche: a sort of punishment in use among the Turks” Source: Original engraving from the 1761 book Voyage into the Levant from Altar Modelling archive

Building a model of the hook
Based on historical data and engravings, we built a model of a hook in Altar Modelling studio to be used in 25mm wargames using balsa wood.

Model of a hook and 25mm figures

Bibliography
“Tarih Boyunca İşkence”, Panaroma journal, April 1993 Yıllarboyu Tarih journal, February 1981 MUSTAFA, Celal oğlu, Tabakatülmemalik ve derecetülmesalik: Osmanlı İmparatorluğunun yükselme devrinde Türk ordusunun savaşları ve devletin iç ve dış siyasası, Türkçeleştiren Emekli Bnb. Sadettin Tokdemir, Askeri Matbaa, İstanbul, 1937.

NEŞRİ, Mehmed, Kitab-ı Cihan-nüma, Neşri Tarihi, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 1995, Vols I-II. SERTOĞLU, Midhat, Resimli Osmanlı Tarihi Ansiklopedisi, İstanbul Matbaası, 1958. YILDIRIM, Ali, Osmanlı Engizisyonu zulmün tarihi, Toplumsal Dönüşüm Yayınları, İstanbul 2001 THEVENOT, Jean, 1655-1656’da Türkiye, Tercüman 1001 temel eser, İstanbul 1978 Voyage into the Levant, 1761

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