The Image of the Hangman

Activity: Talk or presentation typesTalk or presentation (not at a conference)Academic


The general safety system in modern societies is guaranteed by a system consisting of the trias of police force, justice and the panel system. The ultimate punishment is the death penalty, stil executed in more than twenty countries on earth. Except from punishment death penalties are considered as protection of citizens against convicted offenders. Therefore it should be expected that people who carry out this punishment would be highly regarded. However today they remain mostly anonymous and/or the structure of the execution prevents
the performers from knowing who is actually responsible for killing the convict.
The image of the hangman in the first period of professionalisation during the seventeenth century seems not to be positive either. Different prejudices can be found: they seemed to be some kind of untouchables not allowed to mix with normal citizens, even not allowed to touch them literally. Only Lutherans were asked to perform death sentences because they could justify themselfs for not keeping the sixth commandment. Hangmen stayed anonimous, etc. In my paper I will focus on the (visual) representations of hangmen in the Netherlands during the seventeenth century, examine some of these prejudices and consider whether the hangman was part of the perception of safety of the public.
Period22 Jan 2021
Event titleCultural perception of safety
Event typeConference
LocationUtrecht, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational