You will be burnt at the stake: How much pain to expect?

Supposing you are convicted of witchcraft, or involved in a heretical reformation in the south of France in the wrong century to do this, and they piling up the faggots as the priests make their last offer of salvation.

How much suffering and pain should you expect from burning at the stake? How long before unconciousness? I myself would prefer being burnt rather than the torture chamber, at least you know the burning can last only so long. It just seems that as bad as it may be, better than some other tortures.

I’ve read that familes sometimes bribed someone to put green wood on the fire as it would produce a lot of smoke and hopefully the person being burned would suffocate before the fire got to them. So that says something to me about the pain factor.

I distinctly recall in The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, a graphic description of a burning at the stake. Eco claimed death was caused by the heart swelling up and bursting, I guess from the heat or smoke intake, before the flames themselves bothered you much. Wouldn’t want to put it to a test, though!

Well, if the Spanish Inquisition is doing it, I wouldn’t know what to expect.

I imagine it’s least a 9 on the pain scale.

Generally you hoped to suffocate, at least to the point of insensibility, before you were too seriously burned. Whether you did or not depended on a number of factors including how the fire was built and fuelled, and what the weather was doing - wind speed and direction mattered.

Third degree burns are of course painless, but they pass through first- and second-degree stages to get to third-degree stage, and even then the third-degree burn is usually bordered by an area of extremely painful second-degree burn.

Haven’t you ever burnt your finger or experienced sunburn? That shit is painful. I cannot even begin to fathom what being burnt at the stake would feel like. I have an irrational but very strong fear of being burnt alive. I think I would go insane before I actually dropped dead.

Absolutely terrible, I’d imagine. On the execution (not far from where I sit) of Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley:

I guess the only question is how quickly you pass out from the fumes. If you pass out quickly, it might not be so bad; if you don’t, I imagine it would be unthinkable agony.

I’d hope to be like the accused witch, who according to legend went to the stake with a smile on her face,

having packed 80 pounds of gunpowder and 40 pounds of roofing nails into her petticoats, thereby killing with shrapnel every one of her accusers once the flames got going.

Wow. Who says you can’t take 'em with you?

That would be one Agnes Nutter, Witch. As described in the elightening tome Good Omens.

I had read an article somewhere where they said most died quickly from asphyxiation rather than burning to death.

If ever a thread title begged for the “need answer fast!!” addendum…

Key word: Most

What are “faggots” in this context?

I heard this, too.

ETA: Faggots are bundles of wood.

I actually did burn myself yesterday. I was making fries in a skillet and when I was putting the skillet into the sink I bumped myself on the arm. After putting a damp cloth on it for a bit the pain was gone but for a few moments there it really fucking hurt. I imagine that actually being exposed to open flame would be about ten times worse. Now all you have to imagine is that happening all over your body until you finally die.


The slack-jawed sort.