09 March 2018

Nine familial exterminations

Last evening I finished watching the absolutely superb PBS series The Story of China.  In the final episode, Michael Wood makes reference to an ancient form of extreme punishment:
The nine familial exterminations or nine kinship exterminations... was the most serious punishment for a capital offense in Ancient China. A collective punishment typically associated with offenses such as treason, the punishment involved the execution of all relatives of an individual, which were categorized into nine groups. The occurrence of this punishment was somewhat rare, with relatively few sentences recorded throughout history.

The punishment involved the execution of close and extended family members. These included:
  • The criminal's living parents
  • The criminal's living grandparents
  • Any children the criminal may have, over a certain age (which is usually variable depending on the time period) and if married their spouses
  • Any grandchildren the criminal may have, over a certain age (which is usually variable depending on the time period) and if married their spouses
  • Siblings and siblings-in-law (the siblings of the criminal and that of his or her spouse, in the case where he or she is married)
  • Uncles and aunts of the criminal, as well as their spouses
  • The criminal's cousins (in case of Korea, this includes up to second and third cousins)
  • The criminal's spouse
  • The criminal's spouse's parents
  • The criminal himself

7 comments:

  1. It was an excellent series. Might I also recommend NatGeo’s three part series on the Amur River. I believe it is called “Amur: The Forbidden River”

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  2. Well, you'd think that punishment would deter all but the most malignant narcissist from committing treason. (I'll let you draw your own conclusions about whether it would have impacted the decisions of those currently under investigation.)

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  3. While this is utterly immoral, one cannot help but wonder if such punishment would deter terrorists. I’m thinking probably not all of them. In a sense, though, the punishment of a criminal already impacts his or her family.

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  4. North Korea is doing that now, although not as extensive.

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  5. Replies
    1. The copypaste monster strikes again. Fixed. Thanks, Dora.

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