Early Modern Europe

1. Read the short narrative description below and listen to the attached audio (you can skip this if you heard these in tutorial)

2. Answer :

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– What do you hear? What sounds stand out to you and what blends together? How does it make you feel?

– What kind of violence exists in this kind of execution ritual? Is there violence here (aside from the actual killing)?

– What kind of message(s) does this form of execution ritual send? Are they different from the messages more gruesome execution rituals send (see pgs. 106/107 in WH and the death of Coligny in the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre source for examples)?


Imagine for a moment that you live in Italy, and it’s 1490. You’ve done something worthy of the death penalty, and you know that this morning is your last. You’ve spent the whole night with two people- men you think, but it’s hard to tell since they’re wearing robes. These are the Comforters. Coming from upper middle class society, they have volunteered to help you though this horrible night, and they have spent the long hours telling you stories and singing you popular songs, all with the same message. Be like the thief crucified beside Christ. Repent, be silent and still as you walk to the scaffold, and you will go to heaven no matter what your crime was. They emphasize this over and over- you must not scream, or cry, or vent your anger against those who put you here- you must be silent. Your soul has already crossed over, and now your body will join it. They tell you that they will be with you for every step.

Together you leave your cell. They hold up a tavoletta (a small three part artwork on a stick) in front of your eyes, blocking out the crowd. One of them stands right by your side and begins to sing a hymn, trying to block out the noise of the crowd. Together, you step out into the street.




Based on the readings below,



Please think about what stood out to you when you read the primary sources?

What purpose did the violence serve in the primary sources (or did it have one)?

Did you see any elements of propaganda in the primary sources?

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