AskDefine | Define drawn

Dictionary Definition



1 a gully that is shallower than a ravine
2 an entertainer who attracts large audiences; "he was the biggest drawing card they had" [syn: drawing card, attraction, attractor, attracter]
3 the finish of a contest in which the score is tied and the winner is undecided; "the game ended in a draw"; "their record was 3 wins, 6 losses and a tie" [syn: standoff, tie]
4 anything (straws or pebbles etc.) taken or chosen at random; "the luck of the draw"; "they drew lots for it" [syn: lot]
5 a playing card or cards dealt or taken from the pack; "he got a pair of kings in the draw"
6 a golf shot that curves to the left for a right-handed golfer; "he tooks lessons to cure his hooking" [syn: hook, hooking]
7 (American football) the quarterback moves back as if to pass and then hands the ball to the fullback who is running toward the line of scrimmage [syn: draw play]
8 poker in which a player can discard cards and receive substitutes from the dealer; "he played only draw and stud" [syn: draw poker]
9 the act of drawing or hauling something; "the haul up the hill went very slowly" [syn: haul, haulage]


1 cause to move along the ground by pulling; "draw a wagon"; "pull a sled" [syn: pull, force] [ant: push]
2 get or derive; "He drew great benefits from his membership in the association" [syn: reap]
3 make a mark or lines on a surface; "draw a line"; "trace the outline of a figure in the sand" [syn: trace, line, describe, delineate]
4 make, formulate, or derive in the mind; "I draw a line here"; "draw a conclusion"; "draw parallels"; "make an estimate"; "What do you make of his remarks?" [syn: make]
5 bring, take, or pull out of a container or from under a cover; "draw a weapon"; "pull out a gun"; "The mugger pulled a knife on his victim" [syn: pull, pull out, get out, take out]
6 represent by making a drawing of, as with a pencil, chalk, etc. on a surface; "She drew an elephant"; "Draw me a horse"
7 take liquid out of a container or well; "She drew water from the barrel" [syn: take out]
8 give a description of; "He drew an elaborate plan of attack" [syn: describe, depict]
9 select or take in from a given group or region; "The participants in the experiment were drawn from a representative population"
10 elicit responses, such as objections, criticism, applause, etc.; "The President's comments drew sharp criticism from the Republicans"; "The comedian drew a lot of laughter"
11 suck in or take (air); "draw a deep breath"; "draw on a cigarette" [syn: puff, drag]
12 move or go steadily or gradually; "The ship drew near the shore"
13 remove (a commodity) from (a supply source); "She drew $2,000 from the account"; "The doctors drew medical supplies from the hospital's emergency bank" [syn: withdraw, take out, draw off] [ant: deposit]
14 choose at random; "draw a card"; "cast lots" [syn: cast]
15 in baseball: earn or achieve a base by being walked by the pitcher; "He drew a base on balls" [syn: get]
16 bring or lead someone to a certain action or condition; "She was drawn to despair"; "The President refused to be drawn into delivering an ultimatum"; "The session was drawn to a close"
17 cause to flow; "The nurse drew blood"
18 write a legal document or paper; "The deed was drawn in the lawyer's office"
19 engage in drawing; "He spent the day drawing in the garden"
20 move or pull so as to cover or uncover something; "draw the shades"; "draw the curtains"
21 allow a draft; "This chimney draws very well"
22 require a specified depth for floating; "This boat draws 70 inches"
23 pull (a person) apart with four horses tied to his extremities, so as to execute him; "in the old days, people were drawn and quartered for certain crimes" [syn: quarter, draw and quarter]
24 take in, also metaphorically; "The sponge absorbs water well"; "She drew strength from the minister's words" [syn: absorb, suck, imbibe, soak up, sop up, suck up, take in, take up]
25 direct toward itself or oneself by means of some psychological power or physical attributes; "Her good looks attract the stares of many men"; "The ad pulled in many potential customers"; "This pianist pulls huge crowds"; "The store owner was happy that the ad drew in many new customers" [syn: attract, pull, pull in, draw in] [ant: repel]
26 thread on or as if on a string; "string pearls on a string"; "the child drew glass beads on a string"; "thread dried cranberries" [syn: string, thread]
27 pull back the sling of (a bow); "The archers were drawing their bows" [syn: pull back]
28 guide or pass over something; "He ran his eyes over her body"; "She ran her fingers along the carved figurine"; "He drew her hair through his fingers" [syn: guide, run, pass]
29 finish a game with an equal number of points, goals, etc.; "The teams drew a tie" [syn: tie]
30 contract; "The material drew after it was washed in hot water"
31 reduce the diameter of (a wire or metal rod) by pulling it through a die; "draw wire"
32 steep; pass through a strainer; "draw pulp from the fruit"
33 remove the entrails of; "draw a chicken" [syn: disembowel, eviscerate]
34 flatten, stretch, or mold metal or glass, by rolling or by pulling it through a die or by stretching; "draw steel"
35 cause to localize at one point; "Draw blood and pus" [also: drew, drawn]drawn adj
1 showing the wearing effects of overwork or care or suffering; "looking careworn as she bent over her mending"; "her face was drawn and haggard from sleeplessness"; "that raddled but still noble face"; "shocked to see the worn look of his handsome young face"- Charles Dickens [syn: careworn, haggard, raddled, worn]
2 subjected to great tension; stretched tight; "the skin of his face looked drawn and tight"; "her nerves were taut as the strings of a bow" [syn: taut]
3 represented in a drawing
4 having the curtains or draperies closed or pulled shut; "the drawn draperies kept direct sunlight from fading the rug"
5 used of vehicles pulled forward (often used in combination); "horse-drawn vehicles"drawn See draw

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. past participle of draw

Extensive Definition

To be hanged, drawn and quartered was the penalty once ordained in England for the crime of high treason. It is considered by many to be the epitome of cruel punishment, and was reserved only for this most serious crime, which was deemed more heinous than murder and other capital offences. It was applied only to male criminals. Women found guilty of treason in England were sentenced to be burnt at the stake, a punishment abolished in 1790.


Until 1814, the full punishment for the crime of treason was to be hanged, drawn and quartered in that the condemned prisoner would be:
  1. Dragged on a hurdle (a wooden frame) to the place of execution. (This is one possible meaning of drawn.)
  2. Hanged by the neck for a short time or until almost dead. (hanged).
  3. Disembowelled and emasculated and the genitalia and entrails burned before the condemned's eyes (This is another meaning of drawn — see the reference to the Oxford English Dictionary below.)
  4. Beheaded and the body divided into four parts (quartered).
Typically, the resulting five parts (i.e. the four quarters of the body and the head) were gibbeted (put on public display) in different parts of the city, town, or, in famous cases, in the country, to deter would-be traitors who had not seen the execution. After 1814, the convict would be hanged until dead and the mutilation would be performed post-mortem. Gibbeting was later abolished in England in 1843, while drawing and quartering was abolished in 1870.
There is confusion among modern historians about whether "drawing" referred to the dragging to the place of execution or the disembowelling, but since two different words are used in the official documents detailing the trial of William Wallace ("detrahatur" for drawing as a method of transport, and "devaletur" for disembowelment), there is no doubt that the subjects of the punishment were disembowelled.
Judges delivering sentence at the Old Bailey also seemed to have had some confusion over the term "drawn", and some sentences are summarized as "Drawn, Hanged and Quartered". Nevertheless, the sentence was often recorded quite explicitly. For example, the record of the trial of Thomas Wallcot, John Rouse, William Hone and William Blake for offences against the king, on 12 July, 1683 concludes as follows:
The Oxford English Dictionary notes both meanings of drawn: "To draw out the viscera or intestines of ... a traitor or other criminal after hanging)" and "To drag (a criminal) at a horse's tail, or on a hurdle or the like, to the place of execution". It states that "In many cases of executions it is uncertain [which of these senses of drawn] is meant. The presumption is that where drawn is mentioned after hanged, the sense is [the second meaning]."
The condemned man would usually be sentenced to the short drop method of hanging, so that the neck would not break. The man was usually dragged alive to the quartering table, although in some cases men were brought to the table dead or unconscious. A splash of water was usually employed to wake the man if unconscious, then he was laid down on the table. A large cut was made in the gut after removing the genitalia, and the intestines would be spooled out on a device that resembled a dough roller. Each piece of organ would be burnt before the sufferer's eyes, and when he was completely disembowelled, his head would be cut off. The body would then be cut into four pieces, and the king would decide where they were to be displayed. Usually the head was sent to the Tower of London and, as in the case of William Wallace, the other four pieces were sent to different parts of the country.


H. Thomas Milhorn claims that hanging, drawing and quartering was first used against William Maurice, who was convicted of piracy in 1241. This would make Henry III the first practitioner.
The punishment was more famously and verifiably employed by King Edward I ("Longshanks") in his efforts to bring Wales, Scotland, and Ireland under English rule.
In 1283, it was inflicted on the Welsh prince Dafydd ap Gruffydd in Shrewsbury. Dafydd had been a hostage in the English court in his youth, growing up with Edward and for several years fought alongside Edward against his brother Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales. Llywelyn had won recognition of the title, "Prince of Wales", from Edward's father King Henry III, and both Edward and his father had been imprisoned by Llywelyn's ally, Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester, in 1264.
Edward's enmity towards Llywelyn ran deep. When Dafydd returned to the side of his brother and attacked the English Hawarden Castle, Edward saw this as both a personal betrayal and a military setback and hence his punishment of Dafydd was specifically designed to be harsher than any previous form of capital punishment. The punishment was part of an overarching strategy to eliminate Welsh independence. Edward built an "iron ring" of castles in Wales and had Dafydd's young sons incarcerated for life in Bristol Castle and daughters sent to a nunnery in England, whilst having his own son, Edward II, assume the title Prince of Wales. Dafydd's head joined that of his brother Llywelyn (killed in a skirmish months earlier) on top of the Tower of London, where the skulls were still visible many years later. His quartered body parts were sent to four English towns for display.

William Wallace

Two decades later, on 23 August 1305, Sir William Wallace was the next person to be hanged, drawn and quartered, which occurred as a result of Edward I's Scottish wars. This established the precedent as the ultimate penalty for treason against the English crown. Both Dafydd ap Gruffydd and William Wallace asserted at their trials that they were not traitors for having fought in defence of Wales and Scotland against foreign invaders. Wallace, unlike his Welsh counterpart, had never fought for Edward before fighting against him.

Cornish leaders An Gof and Thomas Flamank

The leaders of the first Cornish Uprising of 1497, Michael An Gof and Thomas Flamank, were hanged, drawn and quartered on 27 June 1497 at Tyburn, London.

Tudor era

In an attempt to intimidate the Roman Catholic clergy into taking the Oath of Supremacy, Henry VIII ordered that John Houghton, the prior of the London Charterhouse, be hanged, drawn and quartered, along with two other Carthusians. Henry also famously condemned Francis Dereham to this form of execution for being one of Catherine Howard's lovers. Dereham and the King's good friend Thomas Culpeper were both executed shortly before Catherine herself, but Culpeper was spared the cruel punishment and was instead beheaded. Sir Thomas More, who was found guilty of high treason under the Treason Act of 1534, was spared this punishment; Henry commuted the execution to one by beheading.
In the aftermath of the Babington Plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I and replace her on the throne with Mary Queen of Scots, the conspirators were condemned to this method of execution in September 1586. On hearing of the appalling agony to which the first seven condemned were subjected while being butchered on the scaffold, Elizabeth ordered that the remaining conspirators, who were to be dispatched on the following day, should be left hanging until they were dead. Other Elizabethans who were executed in this way include Elizabeth's own physician, Dr. Rodrigo Lopez, a Portuguese Jew who was convicted of conspiring against her in 1594, and the Jesuit Edmund Campion.

Stuart era

Other notable deaths from the punishment include Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot to assassinate James I in 1605. Fawkes, though weakened by torture, cheated the executioners. When he was to be hanged until almost dead, he jumped from the gallows, so his neck broke and he died. A co-conspirator, Robert Keyes, had attempted the same trick, but the rope broke, so he was drawn fully conscious. Henry Garnet was executed on 3 May 1606 at St. Paul's. His crime was to be the confessor of several members of the Gunpowder Plot. Many spectators thought that his sentence was too severe. Antonia Fraser writes:
Under the Commonwealth, while convicted traitors were seemingly spared this gruesome execution, St John Southworth, being a priest, was prosecuted under the Elizabethan anti-priest legislation which prescribed the sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering. He was hanged but spared the drawing and quartering.
Over six days in October of 1660, after the Restoration of Charles II, nine of those convicted of the regicide of Charles I in 1649 were executed in London in this manner. Those executed were: Thomas Harrison, John Jones, Adrian Scroope, John Carew, Thomas Scot, Gregory Clement, Daniel Axtel, Hugh Peters, and John Cooke. Three more regicides suffered the same fate within two years: John Okey, John Barkstead and Miles Corbet. Additionally, the corpses of Oliver Cromwell, John Bradshaw and Henry Ireton were disinterred and hanged, drawn and quartered in posthumous executions for their involvement in the regicide.
Only a few months later on January 6, 1661, about fifty Fifth Monarchists, headed by a wine-cooper named Thomas Venner, made an effort to attain possession of London in the name of "King Jesus". Most of the fifty were either killed or taken prisoner, and on January 19 and 21, Venner and ten others were hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason.
In October 1663 twenty-six men were arrested, imprisoned, and tried in York for their participation in The Farnley Wood Plot. Twenty three hanged, drawn and quartered in York, but three rebels escaped from prison only to be recaptured in Leeds early the next year where they were then executed in a similar manner.
In 1676, Joshua Tefft was executed by this method at Smith's Castle in Wickford, Rhode Island. He was an English colonist who fought on the side of the Narragansett during the Great Swamp Fight battle of King Philip's War. He may be the only person ever hanged, drawn and quartered in North America. Metacomet, leader of the Narragansett, was himself beheaded and quartered, but not hanged, after his death.
Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh and the Catholic primate of Ireland, was arrested in 1681 and transported to Newgate Prison, London, where he was convicted of treason. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, the last Catholic to be executed for his faith in England. He was beatified in 1920 and was canonized in 1975 by Pope Paul VI. His head is preserved for viewing as a relic in St. Peter's Church in Drogheda, while the rest of his body rests in Downside Abbey, near Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset.
If there was a large rebellion against the Crown, only a few of the ringleaders would be hanged, drawn and quartered; most would either be hanged, sent to penal colonies, or pardoned. The Bloody Assizes of Judge Jeffreys after the Monmouth Rebellion is a notorious post Civil War English example, but in the aftermath of rebellions in Ireland and Scotland punishment was often just as ruthless.

From the eighteenth century

During the American War of Independence (1775 – 1783), notable captured colonists, such as signers of the American Declaration of Independence, were theoretically subject to being hanged, drawn and quartered as traitors to the King. Those taken in arms (military) were treated as prisoners of war.
The penultimate use of the sentence in England was against the French spy François Henri de la Motte, who was convicted of treason on 23 July 1781. The last occasion was on 24 August 1782 against Scottish spy David Tyrie in Portsmouth for carrying on a treasonable correspondence with the French (using information passed to him from officials high in the British government). A contemporary account in the Hampshire Chronicle describes his being hanged for 22 minutes, following which he was beheaded and his heart cut out and burned. He was then emasculated, quartered, and his body parts put into a coffin and buried in the pebbles at the seaside. The same account claims that, immediately after his burial, sailors dug the coffin up and cut the body into a thousand pieces, each taking a piece as a souvenir to their shipmates. Little else is known of his life.
British courts continued to apply the sentence in Dublin, in Ireland. The last execution was of Robert Emmet on September 20, 1803, who was hanged and then beheaded once dead. Emmet led a failed uprising against British rule earlier that year. Edward Marcus Despard and his six accomplices were sentenced to hanging, drawing and quartering for allegedly plotting to assassinate George III but their sentence was commuted to simple hanging and beheading.
In 1817, the three leaders of the Pentrich Rising, convicted of high treason, suffered hanging and beheading only.
In 1820, Arthur Thistlewood and other participants in the Cato Street Conspiracy were condemned to this punishment, though the court record shows that the drawing and quartering was omitted from the completion of the sentence. The sentence was passed on the Irish rebel leader William Smith O'Brien in 1848 but commuted to transportation.
In Lower Canada (now Quebec), David McLane was hanged, drawn and quartered on 21 July 1797 for treason; however, Hangman Ward let McLane hang for 28 minutes. This ensured he was not alive to suffer the disembowling, decapitation and quartering part of the sentence. Ignace Vailliancourt was "hanged, dissected and anatomized" on 7 March 1803 for murder; however, part of the sentence was that his body "be delivered to Dr. Charles Blake for dissection", so this was likely not a true drawing and quartering. During the War of 1812, in May 1814 at Ancaster, Upper Canada (now Ontario), Attorney General John Beverley Robinson orchestrated a show trial to discourage any tendencies to join with the American side in the war because many residents of Upper Canada were immigrants from the American Colonies or closely related to Americans. The judges indicted 71 traitors and sentenced 17 to be hanged, drawn and quartered. They finally pardoned nine, hanged eight and quartered none.

Details of the crime

The crime of treason, or offences against the crown is often thought of in terms of attempted regicides, such as Guy Fawkes and others mentioned above. However, the crime was interpreted at different periods of English history to include a variety of acts which, at the time, were deemed to threaten the constitutional authority of the monarchy.
For example, on 12 December 1674, William Burnet was condemned to this punishment for offences against the king: namely that he "had often endeavoured to reconcile divers of his Majesties Protestant subjects to the Romish Church, and had actually perverted several to embrace the Roman Catholique Religion, and assert and maintain the Popes supremacy." In other words, he had come to England and attempted to convert Protestants to Catholicism. In a similar vein, John Morgan was also sentenced to this punishment on 30 April 1679, for having received orders from the See of Rome, and coming to England: there being "very good Evidence that proved he was a Priest, and had said Mass".
On the same day in 1679, two other people were found guilty of offences against the king, at the Old Bailey. In this case, they had been "Coyning and Counterfeiting". Again, they were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. In a similar case on 15 October 1690, Thomas Rogers and Anne Rogers were tried for "Clipping 40 pieces of Silver" (in other words, clipping the edges off silver coins). Thomas Rogers was hanged, drawn and quartered and Anne Rogers was burnt alive.

Similar, lesser punishments for treason

Men convicted of the lesser crime of petty treason were dragged to the place of execution and hanged until dead, but not subsequently dismembered. Women convicted of treason or petty treason were burnt at the stake.

Class distinctions in its application

In Britain, this penalty was usually reserved for commoners, including knights. Noble traitors were beheaded, a much less painful punishment, at first by sword and in later years by axe. The different treatment of lords and commoners was clear after the Cornish Rebellion of 1497: lowly-born Michael An Gof and Thomas Flamank were hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn, while their fellow rebellion leader Lord Audley was beheaded at Tower Hill.
This class distinction was brought out in a House of Commons debate of 1680, with regard to the Warrant of Execution of Lord Stafford, which had condemned him to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Sir William Jones is quoted as saying "Death is the substance of the Judgment; the manner of it is but a circumstance.... No man can show me an example of a Nobleman that has been quartered for High-Treason: They have been only beheaded". The House then resolved that "Execution be done upon Lord Stafford, by severing his Head from his Body".

Religious considerations

Dismemberment of the body after death was seen by many contemporaries as a way of punishing the traitor beyond the grave. In western European Christian countries, it was ordinarily considered contrary to the dignity of the human body to mutilate it. This may be linked to the contemporary Christian belief in bodily resurrection on the Day of Judgement. A Parliamentary Act from the reign of Henry VIII stipulated that only the corpses of executed murderers could be used for dissection. Being thus dismembered was viewed as an extra punishment not suitable for others. There are cases on record where murderers would try to plead guilty to another capital offence so that, although they would be hanged, their body would be buried whole and not be dissected.
Attitudes towards this issue changed very slowly in Britain and were not manifested in law until the passing of the Anatomy Act in 1832. Respect for the dead is still a sensitive issue in Britain as can be seen by the furor over the "Alder Hey organs scandal" when the organs of deceased children were kept without their parents' informed consent.

Eyewitness accounts

An account is provided by the diary of Samuel Pepys for Saturday 13 October 1660, in which he describes his attendance at the execution of Major-General Thomas Harrison for regicide. The complete diary entry for the day, given below, illustrates the matter-of-fact way in which the execution is treated by Pepys:
At 26-27 Great Tower Street, Tower Hill, London, there is a pub called "The Hung Drawn and Quartered". On the wall is the incorrect quotation from Samuel Pepys, shown above. The pub is close to the site of several executions, but not to Charing Cross.

Mentions in fiction

Shakespeare's play Henry V features the discovery of the Southampton Plot to kill King Henry V before he sailed to France. Two of the conspirators (Henry, Lord Scroop of Masham, and Richard, Earl of Cambridge) were nobles and were beheaded; Thomas Grey, Knight of Northumberland, was drawn and quartered.
In Robin Hobb's "realist" fantasy novels The Farseer Trilogy and The Tawny Man Trilogy, villagers accused of being able to talk to animals are hanged, quartered, and burned.
Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities also refers to Charles Darnay possibly being drawn and quartered as a punishment if he was convicted of treason.
The historical execution of the regicide Robert-François Damiens, including quartering using horses, drew prominent late-20th-century attention:
In the 1995 film Braveheart, William Wallace, portrayed by Mel Gibson, is depicted being drawn, quartered and beheaded in 1305 for his role in the Scottish rebellion against Edward I.
In Jimmy Carter's 2003 novel The Hornet's Nest rebellious American colonists are arrested by the Crown and tried for and convicted of treason. They are sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, but the sentence is never carried out.
In the 3-part British television documentary Tales From the Tower (2002), the hanging, drawing and quartering of Anthony Babington and several of his co-conspiritors is graphically re-enacted for the segment titled Spies and Traitors.
In the 2004 film National Treasure, protagonist Ben Gates mentions the act as being the punishment for signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The 2006 mini-series Elizabeth I featured graphic scenes depicting the hanging, drawing and quartering of conspirators against the Queen.
In the Showtime series The Tudors, one of Anne Boleyn's accused lovers, Mark Smeaton is graphically quartered.

French quartering

In France, the traditional punishment for regicide (whether attempted or completed) under the ancien régime (known in French as écartèlement) is often described as "quartering", though it in fact has little to do with the English punishment. The process was as follows: the regicide offender would be first tortured with red-hot pincers, then the hand with which the crime was committed would be burnt, with sulphur, molten lead, wax, and boiling oil poured into the wounds. The quartering would be accomplished by the attachment of the condemned's limbs to horses, who would then tear them away from the body. Finally, the often still-living torso would be burnt. Notable examples include:
These executions were carried out (along with most others under the ancien régime) in the Place de Grève.
Gérard's execution took place on the market square in Delft, the Netherlands.
drawn in German: Drawing and quartering
drawn in French: Hanged, drawn and quartered
drawn in Italian: Squartamento
drawn in Dutch: vierendelen
drawn in Japanese: 首吊り・内臓抉り・四つ裂きの刑
drawn in Norwegian: Hengning, trekking og kvartering
drawn in Polish: Powieszenie i poćwiartowanie
drawn in Russian: Четвертование
drawn in Finnish: Hirtetty, revitty ja paloiteltu
drawn in Swedish: Hängning, dragning och fyrdelning
drawn in Ukrainian: Четвертування
drawn in Chinese: 車裂

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alike, at par, au pair, careworn, commensurate, dragged out, drawn out, elongated, equal, equalized, even, even stephen, exhausted, extended, fatigued, fifty-fifty, haggard, half-and-half, hollow-eyed, knotted, lengthened, level, like, nip and tuck, on a footing, on a level, on a par, on even ground, par, pinched, prolongated, prolonged, proportionate, protracted, pulled, quits, ravaged, spun out, square, stalemated, straggling, strained, stretched, stretched out, strung out, taut, tense, tied, tight, tired, tired-eyed, tired-faced, tired-looking, wan, weary-looking, worn, worn out
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