In costume TV dramas, it is inevitable to see a scene like this. When an important person is escorted to the execution ground because of an unjust case, when the executioner’s sword has been raised and the head is falling, there will always be someone from the distance struggling to come. While shouting: “Save someone under the knife”! While displaying the edict of pardon, he successfully saved the prisoner’s life.
This makes people curious. The scenes in film and television dramas are of course for the needs of the plot. However, in ancient times, when the executioner heard the words “save the life under the knife”, would he really stop immediately? In fact, don’t be misled by the TV series, these 13 words explain everything, let’s take a look!
Throughout the ancient judiciary, we have also experienced the process of sentencing deliberations from simple to complex, and execution methods from complex to simple. Starting from the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, the judicial systems of various countries have gradually improved. By the Han Dynasty, the judicial attitude towards death row prisoners also became more and more obvious. He became more and more cautious. When Liu Bang, the emperor of the Han Dynasty, first entered Xianyang, he only made a three-chapter agreement: “When you make a pact with your elders, the law is three-chapter; if you kill someone, you will die, and if you hurt someone or steal, you will be punished.” However, after the Han Dynasty unified the country, the Han law stipulated that if Officials with an annual salary of more than two thousand dan must be submitted to the emperor for review before execution.
This should be regarded as the earliest death penalty review system in our country. During the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, this review method gradually became popular and established. According to the “Book of Wei”: “When the person dies, the case will be reported. If there is no resurrection, all will be dead.” The prison officials could not be pacified, and all the prisoners were sent to prison. The emperor came to ask questions in person, and all complaints were rejected. The great reforms of the states and countries were all reported first, and then implemented. “
By the time of the Sui Dynasty, the court was more cautious and had to ask the emperor to personally intervene, adopting the “three repeated memorials” model, which meant that the emperor’s consent was required three times before execution. As recorded in the “Book of Sui Dynasty: Criminal Law Chronicles”: “The Fifteenth System of the Founding of the Emperor: Those guilty of capital offenses will be sentenced after three memorials.” After that, the Tang Dynasty also followed the laws of the Sui Dynasty.
The biggest advantage of doing this is naturally to avoid the occurrence of unjust, false and wrong cases, and effectively prevent local governors from abusing lynchings or deliberately retaliating. In the peaceful years, the number of executions was also greatly reduced. During the Zhenguan era, In 630 AD, the number of executions approved by Emperor Taizong Li Shimin was only 29, which is enough to explain everything. In 632, the famous incident of Li Shimin’s imprisonment occurred, and Emperor Taizong exempted 390 prisoners from the death penalty. And allow them to go home for the New Year.
In the subsequent treatment of the death penalty by the imperial court, it was divided into two situations: “execution by execution” and “execution by execution”. Except for the most heinous prisoners, who were directly ordered by the imperial court, most of the death row prisoners were executed in the preliminary trial at the state and county level. Those who are sentenced to execution must be reviewed at all levels. After being reviewed by the government, province, and central government in turn, they can then request the emperor’s ruling before they can be dealt with in the autumn of the next year. The prisoner’s results include “truth, deferred sentence, can be treated with dignity, There are several types of “retention and inheritance”. Except for the first “real situation”, they can basically save a small life, which is somewhat similar to today’s reprieve of death.
So does this have anything to do with “sparing people under the knife”? The answer is yes. In the Song Dynasty, in order to further ensure safety and avoid unjust, false and wrongful convictions, prisoners still had an insurance policy when they went to the execution ground.
These are the 13 words recorded in the “Song Penal Code”: “Any prisoner on death row who complains of injustice before execution will be interrogated by Chen Zuo.” Therefore, if a temporary protest is made, the executioner will naturally not be able to take the risk of killing by mistake.
Of course, there is only one chance to redress the injustice, and if someone complains for no reason, he may have to be arrested by the Yamen and punished for disturbing the court, and he will be beaten. Not to mention that the emperor already knows the identity of the death row prisoner. Identity, the way it is shown in TV dramas, is obviously unscientific.