the right to dip into


In 17th century France, the State Executioner was entitled to “droit de havage” or “the right to dip into”.


Toy guillotine found here

Among his many privileges were the right of an egg from any egg vendor and a full spoonful of green peas, walnuts, dried fruit or hazelnuts from anyone who sold these items. Sellers of butter, cheese, chicken or fish must pay him six deniers and a carp, the fruiterer gives a sous worth of oranges and lemons from every crate.


For every wagon of oysters in the shell, he gets a quarter, from broom sellers, one free broom, a scuttle full of coal from the coal merchant, free execution ropes from the rope merchant and exemption from all road tolls.” *


Napoleonic bone model guillotine found here

In England the preferred method of execution was hanging. This did not always go according to plan, as in the case of Anne Green.

“She was turned off the ladder, hanging by the neck for half an hour. The body was carried in a coffin to a private house where it began to show signs of life. Dr Petty and another set themselves to recover her. They bled her freely and put her into bed with another woman. After about 2 hours she could speak intelligently and 5 days later she was up. Within a month she had recovered and went to her friends in the country, taking her coffin with her….”


The Sleepers by Gustave Courbet

*Extract from Execution: A Guide to the Ultimate Penalty by Geoffrey Abbott

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 7:22 am  Comments (32)  
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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ok, you’re blogrolled. 😉

  2. Thats strange after two hours in a bed with a women, I’ve lost the ablity to speak intelligently….

  3. Exemption from road tolls? The perks of execution work. I wonder if he used the free broom to sweep up afterward?

    I like Coubert’s euphemistic picture – yawn… sooo ‘sleeepy’.

  4. as much as the executioner got freebies for simply handling a gruesome job? i think the poor woman who had the responsibility to “revive the near dead” should at least get some freakin’ chocolates or something…

  5. 5 days in bed with another woman? I knew Anne Green was a whore.

    • You’re just jealous perhaps?

  6. I don’t understand. Was Anne Green set free after her botched execution? If so, what was she being executed for?

  7. She was a servant in a noble house, got pregnant by possibly the grandson of the house, hid the pregnancy, gave birth prematurely and hid the body. After resurrection she was set free and took her coffin with her to visit friends in the country side.

    • Thanks Dr Brown. Would you like to be a regular contributor?

  8. No wonder the French no longer have the death penalty. it cost too much to support the executioner.

  9. The first picture makes me feel a little uneasy, I’m not sure why. Can’t they get the butcher a segway or something?

    I think I’ve finally found where my Italian ancestors got their idea for ‘a hand in every pie!’

  10. Dare I ask why they put her to bed with another woman?

    • Well, I guess utilising the body warmth of a male would be considered indecent…?

  11. I like to think that the modern day executioner gets free cable, discounts on plasma tvs and cheap hotel accommodation when out of state.

    (PS – I think Dr Brown might be the first case of blogolalia that I’ve come across)

    • ok anaglyph, I understand echolalia but I’m not sure what you meant about the doctor, though I notice he did echo my last sentence…..

      • Echoing in a blog sense – not word for word, but not really adding anything pertinent. Hence, blogolalia.

  12. This must have been in the era when executioners went unmasked. And with all those free brooms, executioners must have had the cleanest floors in the land.

  13. If I was going to die, Hanging would not be my choice, I would want to duel with Katanas or something

  14. Put me in bed with a woman and I guarantee it won’t take ME five days to get up.

  15. Malach is well hung.

    And th soonr, th bettr.

    • hahahahaha…. oops, sorry malach 😉

  16. If they had put her in bed with someone of the opposite sex, the revival would not have taken more than a couple of minutes at the most. We must however consider that medical science was not very advanced in those days.

  17. Did the French executioner get paid money as well? or was that his sole remuneration? If I was an executioner I don’t think I’d want anyone else to know unless I had to. Were they feted? Did any other professions get Droit de Havage (nurses?)?

    Sorry, so many questions! Dr Brown?

    • Yes they got paid as well. nurses get Droit de Havage in the form of prescription drugs… one for you, one for me, one for you, one for me…..

      • That’s naughty Nurse Myra!

      • And two for me please.

  18. Joey: what you said.

  19. “This is famous Aurora Guillotine model. I remember building this one as a kid”.

    OK, “cinorjer” is a seriously scary person. Maybe even scarier than Malach.

    • It pays to click the links doesn’t it QueenWilly?

  20. my that goes to show you can’t keep a good woman down [mmm? that sounds a bit wrong?? lol].. wtg Anne Green 🙂

  21. Wow when it is not your time to go, it is not your time to go.

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