In the Ottoman Empire, condemned high government officials had the right to have a foot race for their lives.

In the Ottoman Empire, condemned high government officials had the right to have a foot race for their lives.

The Ottoman Empire was one of the longest lasting empires in history. It spanned the years between 1299 to 1922 and through its duration covered much of south eastern Europe and parts of northern Africa.

 

If the official was high up enough in the government, he could challenge the head gardener (his executioner) to a foot race for his life. To this date, its exact origins remain unknown. When the death sentence was passed, the condemned man would be legally allowed to run as fast possible from the palace, through the gardens, and down to the Fish Market Gate on the southern side of the palace complex (the place of execution). The run was about 300 yards. If he had reached the Fish Market Gate before the gardener, he would be banished instead of executed. Interestingly, this custom lasted well into the 19th century.

 

(Source)

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