From one showman to another, Cromwell’s head passed through the eighteenth century, turning a profit each time. The only problem was wear and tear. At some point, perhaps as far back as the day at Tyburn, Cromwell had lost an ear and several teeth. His nose had been crushed, his hair was thinning, his flesh was desiccated, and his skin was yellow-brown. The incongruous appearance of this hard, dry object made it an effective memento mori. This was what death looked like. Cromwell, the great commander, was now nothing more than a lump of matter, subject to the whims of Mother Nature and dependent on the passions of the paying public.
Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson
A lengthier excerpt is found in the August issue of Harpers.
Rather fascinating and grotesque to discover that they exhumed the body after his death (from illness) to perform a public beheading, and then proceeded to display the head for nearly three hundred years. It’s an interesting story which makes me curious to read the full book when it’s released in August.