• Jace Shoemaker-Galloway

National Beheading Day: Famous folks who have lost their heads

When it comes to unusual occassions, this particular event is guaranteed to make you lose your mind! While the origins are unknown, Sept. 2 is National Beheading Day!

Various forms of executions have been used for centuries including burning at the stake, firing squads, hangings, the electric chair and beheadings. These gruesome forms of execution were often performed in public via axe, guillotine, sword or knife.

Many notable people, including many Royals, were beheaded at the Tower of London.....

  • The Queen of England, Anne Boleyn, was executed for High Treason on orders from her husband, King Henry VIII. She was not the only wife to die from the cut of a blade or sword – two of King Henry’s wives died this way.

  • In 1542, Queen Katherine Howard, King Henry’s fifth wife, was also beheaded.

  • Lady Jane Grey was the Queen of England for just nine days before she was beheaded at the Tower of London.

  • Louis XVI, King of France and husband to Marie Antoinette, was killed by beheading in 1793 during the French Revolution.

  • Queen Marie Antoinette was put to death via guillotine in 1793.

  • Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded for treason.

  • Mary, Queen of Scots, was also executed due to treason.

  • Charles I, King of England and Scotland, was beheaded.

  • At nearly 70 years of age, Lady Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury, was beheaded in front of 150 spectators for treason. It took 11 blows to kill her. In 1886, Pope Leo XIII beatified her, making her Blessed Margaret Pole.

Of the 122 confirmed executions from 1388 to 1780 at the Tower of London, 93 were beheaded. And during the 20th century, 11 people were executed by firing squad for spying at the Tower of London.

Other notable beheadings include John the Baptist and Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.