Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean, before he was beheaded as a traitor, based on bogus evidence, in 1519.
“The executioner is, I believe, very expert, and my neck is very slender. O God have pity on my soul. O God have pity on my soul.”
Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, as she was about to be beheaded for alleged adultery in 1536.
“This is a sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases.”
Sir Walter Raleigh, as he touched the blade of the axe with which he would be beheaded for treason, on October 29, 1618.
“This is a very fickle and faithless generation.”
Captain William Kidd, sea captain and pirate, before his hanging in England in 1701. He had been promised a pardon if he surrendered.
“I did not think they would put a young gentleman to death for such a trifle.”
Jean Francois le Fevre, Chevalier de la Barre, about to be executed for having mutilated a crucifix, in France in 1766. He was 19.
“Farewell, my children, forever; I am going to be with your father.”
Marie Antoinette, queen of France, at her execution on October 16, 1793.
“Be sure you show my head to the mob. It will be a long time ere they see its like.”
Georges Jacques Danton, leader of the French Revolution, to his own executioner as he faced the guillotine on April 5, 1794.
“Nothing succeeds with me. Even here I meet with disappointment.”
Michael Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Russian democratic revolutionary condemned to death for plotting against Emperor Nicholas I in 1825, when the first rope broke at his hanging.
“I hope you will not keep me waiting any longer than necessary.”
John Brown, the abolitionist, as he was about to be hung on December 2, 1859, for leading the raid on Harpers Ferry.
“Don’t draw it too tight. I can’t breathe. . . Long live Anarchy. . . This is the happiest moment of my life.”
Adlof Fischer, an instigator of the Haymarket Square riot in Chicago, at his hanging in 1886.