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The executioner and executor of the high-court.


THE EXECUTOR OF THE HIGH COURT [...] is the one who executes judgments condemning criminals to death or to some afflictive punishment.

He is named the executor of the high court, because the officers of the high court [...] are the only ones who yield what is known as the power tojus gladii [put to the sword], put to death.

He is also known as the public executioner.


This function is regarded as ignoble; for this reason when the executioner’s letters are sealed, they are cast beneath the table. [...]


Theexecutor does not seize custody of the condemned until having heard the pronouncement of the condemnation judgment.

It is not permitted to hinder him in his functions, nor for the people to insult him; however if he is amiss in his duty, he is punished according to the law. [...]

The executioner is not permitted to stay within the walls of the city, unless it is in the house of the pillory, where he is given lodging under his provisions; as decreed in a judgment of Parlement on 31 August 1709.

[...] the executioner must execute all judgments, either given after due hearing of the parties or in absentia, that condemn to some punishment, resulting in death or imprisonment, or deprivation of all rights: it is he who executes all judgments carrying a sentence of death or mutilation of limbs, public branding & castigation, honourable amends in figuris. He also condemns to banishment, whether beyond the realm or simply beyond the city or province, when the said banishment is preceded with some other form of punishment, such as whipping, this being the somewhat ordinary case, in which case, having led the criminal to the entrance to the city, he is given a kick in the rear-end as a sign of expulsion. [...]

Source: Diderot, Denis et Jean le Rond d'Alembert, "The executioner, in l'Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers " (Paris: Briasson et autres, n.d.), tome VI, pages 229-2.

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