Giovanni Battista – the most productive executioner in history

(ORDO NEWS) — Giovanni Battista Bugatti, known as Mastro Titta (Senigallia, 1779 – Rome, 1869), was an Italian executioner in the Papal States who executed 514 people in his 68 years of activity.

He became an executioner at the age of 17, in 1796. Bugatti noted 516 names of those executed, but two convicts were deducted from the list, one because he was shot and the other because he was hanged and quartered by his assistant.

On August 17, 1864, Vincenzo Balducci succeeded him, and Pope Pius IX awarded him a pension of 30 scudis a month.

Horrific and cruel executions were one of the most popular rituals in Rome. When someone was beheaded, the squares were always full. It was a show for both adults and children.

On May 19, 1817, George Gordon Byron was in Piazza del Popolo when three convicts (Giovanni Francesco Trani, Felice Rocchi and Felice De Simoni) were beheaded: the poet described this experience in a letter addressed to his publisher John Murray.

“Two of these men – behaved quite calmly – but the first of the three – died in great horror and unwillingness, which was very terrible, he did not lie down and the priest was forced to drown out his exclamations with even louder exhortations.

The head was cut off before the eye could follow the blow, but from an attempt to pull back the head, although it was held forward by the hair – the first head was cut off close to the ears, and the other two were removed more cleanly.

The pain of the executed seems small and yet the effect for the viewer is very startling and frightening. The sight of the first executed man made me feel very hot and thirsty.

The incident made me tremble so that I could hardly hold the binoculars (I was standing close but was determined to look properly with attention) the second and third (which shows how terribly soon everything becomes indifferent) I am ashamed to say,

The scarlet cloak that Mastro Titta wore during executions and his ax are kept in the Museum of Criminology of Rome.

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