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Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages

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Brenna Faragher

on 4 October 2016

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Transcript of Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages

Crime and Punishment in the
Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, Crime and Punishment was taken very seriously. Torture was a common thing that would take place or happen to people if they committed a crime or violated the strict rules of the law. There were several punishments that people were given, and the more serious the crime, the more painful the result would be. Some people thought that the tortures and punishments were unreasonable, but the rest of them who weren't getting their heads cut off or their whole bodies compressed didn't mind at all. In fact, some people enjoyed watching others suffer to death.
Law and order was pretty challenging to keep in place considering the different rankings of the feudal system when people thought that some situations were unfair to them. When people attended court because they were caught for stealing or something in comparison, they were asked to do something that would determine whether they were innocent or guilty. Some of the tools that were used in the middle ages could be described as faulty because they were simply done by chance. So I truly believe that those who were wrongly accused of a crime shouldn't have been made guilty just because of a silly machine.
Law & Order
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The Forms of Torture
The punishments that people were sentenced to were extremely harsh and sometimes even life threatening. People could hardly bare the agonizing pain, but if they complained they would be put in even more pain. The tortures people set up were designed so that the prisoners would know not to commit another crime in the future because of their foolish actions in the past. Although the wooden devices seemed fair and the people deserved the cruel punishment, it did seem a little over the top with some of the tortures.
Medieval Punishments
These are some of the most common forms of torture that were used in the middle ages:

The Rack- A machine that dislocated the bones of prisoners and stretched their whole bodies completely.
Scold's Bridle- A headpiece usually used on women that was designed for crushing the parts of the face and inside the mouth.
Stocks- The stocks were a fairly decent punishment because victims didn't die from it and it wasn't harmful to the body as some other devices were.
Scavenger's Daughter-A tool that put an enormous amount of pressure on the victim's body and the metal bars caused blood to pour out from the nose and ears.
Ducking Stool- The ducking stool was also designed especially for women and they had to sit on a stool tied up in rope where they would be lowered into a river until the operator was satisfied.
Iron Balls- This form of torture was sturctured by hanging the person by their wrists and their legs were weighed down by heavy iron balls.
There are many differences regarding how crime and punishment compares with today and the reasons and purposes for the changes are quite intriguing. A lot of people reckoned that the rules for someone who committed a crime weren't harsh enough, but opinions differ for the victims who actually had to go through the tortures. Judges who are in charge and control of trials only sentence alleged victims to very few punishments nowadays, including getting fined, being sent to prison, execution and good behaviour bonds. I think that we should be grateful considering how brutal the penalties were during the medieval ages and also as some countries still allow these tortures to be legal.
How things have changed since the middle ages
Why did people think they were right about victims being innocent or guilty?
Many people tried different ways to finally decide a person's fate. Trial by ordeal was a very normal situation that would take place infront of a big crowd. If someone were to burn a metal pole by the fire and place it on a victims hand, they would bandage up the scar and if the wound had healed by a specific amount of time, they would be innocent. There were various other kinds of ways to depict a person's future and these are some of them:

-Drinking poison without choking to death
-Taking out a blazing hot object from boiling oil
-Thrown into freezing cold water with hands and feet tied together without drowning or getting hurt because otherwise you would face consequences or die
People believed that they were right because they thought that God would make the right decisions and keep good-hearted people alive rather than daredevils who were nasty and evil. They also had to respect God's opinions because if they didn't, they would be sent to hell. I don't particularly agree with this statement because I don't think God can control every single thing at one time and also because he may be mistaken.
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