The condemned prisoners was usually given the opportunity to address the spectators - with the sovereign's permission. The speeches given at this terrible time were made with the knowledge that the victim's family would suffer should the victim anger the King or Queen any further.
Executions by Beheading - the Tradition of showing the head...
Following execution the severed head was held up by the hair by the executioner. This was done, not as many people think to show the crowd the head, but in fact to show the head the faces of crowd and it's own body! Killing by beheading is not immediate. Consciousness remains for at least eight seconds after beheading until lack of oxygen causes unconsciousness and eventually death. The punishment by beheading therefore even continued after 'death'. The Heads of Elizabethan traitors were placed on stakes and displayed in public places such as London Bridge.
Elizabethan Executions by being Hung, Drawn and Quartered
The most dreadful punishment of being Hung, Drawn and Quartered. This barbaric form of execution was reserved for the most hated prisoners who had usually been convicted of treason. The form of execution referred to as being Hung, Drawn and Quartered was described by William Harrison, an Elizabethan chronicler, as:
"The greatest and most grievous punishment used in England for such as offend against the State is drawing from the prison to the place of execution upon an hurdle or sled, where they are hanged till they be half dead, and then taken down, and quartered alive; after that, their members and bowels are cut from their bodies, and thrown into a fire, provided near hand and within their own sight, even for the same purpose."
The Quarters of the the body were then hung in prescribed locations in the City of London as a deterrent to all English citizens.
Executions by being burnt at the Stake
Being burnt at the stake was another terrible form of death and execution. Executioners sometimes showed mercy to their victims by placing gunpowder at the base of the stake which helped the victims to a swifter, and less painful, death. The only other respite from the excruciating pain of being burnt alive was if the victims died of suffocation through smoke inhalation and lack of oxygen. This form of execution was traditionally reserved for traitors or those who spoke out against the religion favored by the current sovereign. Queen Elizabeth's Catholic sister Queen Mary sent over 300 Protestants to their death by burning earning herself the name of Bloody Mary.