William Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI (1590-91):
Say. Long sitting to determine poor men's causes
Hath made me full of sickness and diseases.
Cade. Ye shall have a hempen caudle, then, and the help of hatchet.
Dick. Why dost thou quiver, man?
Say. The palsy, and not fear, provokes me.
Cade. Nay, he nods at us, as who should say, I'll be even with you: I'll see if his head will stand steadier on a pole, or no. Take him away, and behead him…. Away with him! He has a familiar under his tongue; he speaks not o' God's name. Go, take him away, I say, and strike off his head presently; and then break into his son-in-law's house, Sir James Cromer, and strike off his head, and bring them both upon two poles hither.
All. It shall be done….
[Cade.] The proudest peer in the realm shall not wear a head on his shoulders, unless he pay me tribute; there shall not a maid be married, but she shall pay to me her maidenhead ere they have it. (4.7.89-122)
[Iden.] Die, damned wretch, the curse of her that bare thee;
And as I thrust thy body in with my sword,
So wish I, I might thrust thy soul to hell.
Hence will I drag thee headlong by the heels
Unto a dunghill which shall be thy grave,
And there cut off thy most ungracious head;
Which I will bear in triumph to the king,
Leaving thy trunk for crows to feed upon. (4.10.77-84)
William Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI (1591-92):
Rich. Speak thou for me and tell them what I did. Showing the Duke of Somerset’s head.
York. Richard hath best deserv’d of all my sons. (1.1.16-17)
Glou. I’ll hear no more; die, prophet, in thy speech:
For this, amongst the rest, was I ordain’d.
K. Hen. Ay, and for much more slaughter after this.
O God forgive my sins, and pardon thee! Dies.
Glou. What? Will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
Sink in the ground? I thought it would have mounted.
See how my sword weeps for the poor king’s death!
O may such purple tears be always shed
From those that with the downfall of our house!
If any spark of life be yet remaining,
Down, down to hell, and say I sent the thither –
Stabs him again.
I, that have neither pity, love, nor fear. (5.6.57-68)
William Shakespeare, Richard III (1592-93):
Buck. Now, my lord, what shall we do, if we perceive
Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots?
Glou. Chop off his head, man. (3.1.191-93)
Hast. The tender love I bear your Grace, my lord,
Makes me most forward in this princely presence
To doom th’ offenders, whosoe’r they be:
I say, my lord, they have deserved death.
Glou. Then be your eyes the witness of their evil.
Look how I am bewitch’d; behold mine arm
Is like a blasted sapling, wither’d up;
And this is Edward’s wife, that monstrous witch,
Consorted with that harlot, strumpet Shore,
That by their witchcraft thus have marked me.
Hast. If they have done this deed, my noble lord –
Glou. If? Thou protector of this damned strumpet,
Talk’st thou to me of ‘ifs’? Thou art a traitor.
Off with his head! (3.4.63-76)
William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (1593-94):
[Marc.] Be candidatus then and put it on,
And help to set a head on headless Rome.
Tit. A better head her glorious body fits
Than his that shakes for age and feebleness. (1.1.185-88)
Enter the Empress’ sons with Lavinia, her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out, and ravish’d.
Dem. So, now go tell, an if thy tongue can speak,
Who 'twas that cut thy tongue and ravish'd thee.
Chi. Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so,
An if thy stumps will let thee play the scribe.
Dem. See how with signs and tokens she can scrowl.
Chi. Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.
Dem. She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash.
And so let’s leave her to her silent walks.
Chi. And ‘twere my cause, I should go hang myself.
Dem. If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord. (2.4.1-10)
Aar. Titus Andronicus, my lord the Emperor
Sends thee this word – that, if thou love thy sons,
Let Marcus, Lucius, or thyself, old Titus,
Or any one of you, chop off your hand
And send it to the King; he for the same
Will send thee hither both thy sons alive,
And that shall be the ransom for their fault….
[Tit.] Lend me thy hand, and I will give thee mine.
Aar. [Aside.] If that be call’d deceit, I will be honest,
And never whilst I live deceive men so;
But I’ll deceive you in another sort,
And that you’ll say ere half an hour pass. He cuts off Titus’ hand….
Enter a Messenger, with two heads and a hand.
Mess. Worthy Andronicus, ill art thou repaid
For that good hand thou sent’st the Emperor.
Here are the heads of thy two noble sons,
And here’s thy hand, in scorn to thee sent back –
The grief their sport! (3.1.150-238)
[Tit.] O villains, Chiron and Demetrius!
Here stands the spring whom you have stain'd with mud,
This goodly summer with your winter mix'd.
You kill'd her husband, and for that vile fault
Two of her brothers were condemn'd to death,
My hand cut off and made a merry jest;
Both her sweet hands, her tongue, and that more dear
Than hands or tongue, her spotless chastity,
Inhuman traitors, you constrain'd and forced.
What would you say, if I should let you speak?
Villains, for shame you could not beg for grace.
Hark, wretches! how I mean to martyr you.
This one hand yet is left to cut your throats,
Whilst that Lavinia 'tween her stumps doth hold
The basin that receives your guilty blood.
You know your mother means to feast with me,
And calls herself Revenge, and thinks me mad:
Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust
And with your blood and it I'll make a paste,
And of the paste a coffin I will rear
And make two pasties of your shameful heads,
And bid that strumpet, your unhallow'd dam,
Like to the earth swallow her own increase.
This is the feast that I have bid her to,
And this the banquet she shall surfeit on;
For worse than Philomel you used my daughter,
And worse than Progne I will be revenged:
And now prepare your throats. Lavinia, come,
Receive the blood: and when that they are dead,
Let me go grind their bones to powder small
And with this hateful liquor temper it;
And in that paste let their vile heads be baked.
Come, come, be every one officious
To make this banquet; which I wish may prove
More stern and bloody than the Centaurs' feast.
He cuts their throats.
So, now bring them in, for I'll play the cook,
And see them ready 'gainst their mother comes. (5.2.169-205)
Marc. You sad-fac’d men, people and sons of Rome,
By uproars sever’d, as a flight of fowl
Scatter’d by winds and high tempestuous gusts,
O, let me teach you how to knit again
This scattered corn into one mutual sheaf,
These broken limbs again into one body. (5.3.67-72)
[Luc.] As fo that ravenous tiger Tamora,
No funeral rite, nor man in mourning weed,
No mournful bell shall ring her nurial,
But throw her forth to beasts and birds to prey.
Her life was beastly and devoid of pity,
And being dead, let birds on her take pity. (5.3.195-200)
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1596-97):
[Shy.] Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond; and in a merry sport
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me. (1.3.144-51)
William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure (1604):
Prov. Here in the prison, father,
There died this morning of a cruel fever
One Ragozine, a most notorious pirate,
A man of Claudio's years; his beard and head
Just of his color. What if we do omit
This reprobate till he were well inclined
And satisfy the deputy with the visage
Of Ragozine, more like to Claudio?...
Duke. Quick, dispatch, and send the head to Angelo….
Enter the Provost with Ragozine’s head.
Prov. Here is the head, I’ll carry it myself. (4.3.69-102)
William Shakespeare, King Lear (1605):
[Corn.] Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
Glou. He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help! O cruel! O you gods!
Reg. One side will mock another; the other too.
Corn. If you see vengeance –
1. Ser. Hold your hand, my lord!
I have served you ever since I was a child;
But better service have I never done you
Than now to bid you hold.
Reg. How now, you dog!
1. Ser. If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
I'ld shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?
Corn. My villain!
They draw and fight.
1. Ser. Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
Cornwall is wounded.
Reg. Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
She takes a sword and runs at him behind; kills him.
1. Ser. O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
To see some mischief on him. O!
Corn. Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vild jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?
Glou. All dark and comfortless! (3.7.67-84)
William Shakespeare, Cymbeline (1609-10):
Enter Guiderius with Cloten’s head
Gui. This Cloten was a fool, an empty purse;
There was no money in't. Not Hercules
Could have knock'd out his brains, for he had none.
Yet I not doing this, the fool had borne
My head as I do his.
Bel. What hast thou done?
Gui. I am perfect what: cut off one Cloten's head,
Son to the queen, after his own report;
Who call'd me traitor, mountaineer, and swore
With his own single hand he'ld take us in
Displace our heads where--thank the gods!--they grow,
And set them on Lud's-town.
Bel. We are all undone. (4.2.112-23)