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Elizabethan Era Punishment and Crime
Transcript of Elizabethan Era Punishment and Crime
(and execution) The Elizabethan era was filled with crime and horrible punishments. A change from the previous ruler, Queen Elizabeth was very strict with following the rules and severely punished rule breakers. Punishments and executions became a spectacle. Punishments that didn't purposefully try to kill were more likely to socially ruin and emotionally break the victim. They could also be used for a permanent reminder or to get information out of someone. But those weren't really for show. There was:
The Collar These are punishments and tortures that are usually not for killing the victim Mutilation was usually reserved for thieves. Most of the time mutilation was when they got their right hand cut off. Less common was the practice of tearing off the thief's fingers or plucking out his/her eyes with hot pincers. Cutting out the tongue isn't usually used for thieves but is still mutilation. Branding is when hot metal is put on bare skin to leave a mark that is permanent. Pillory is when the victim stands with his/her hands, and sometimes head, trapped between two wooden boards with holes for the limbs. The victim would be in the middle of town and be laughed, ridiculed, tickled, branded, whipped, etc. for the amount of days the victim was punished. Closely related, and usually mixed up, are the stocks which was when the victim's feet were trapped. The stocks and pillory could be combined so that both hands, head, and feet were chained. The victim in the stocks was also shown the same treatment as one in the pillory. There is actually a third kind of pillory/stocks. The finger stocks/pillory was used for social misconduct. When a child misbehaved at a formal dinner or such, his/her finger was trapped in a solid wooden block. The finger was trapped in the block bent so that trapped in there long periods of time, it would start to hurt. Sometimes they could be found in church. Any bad behavior could lead to standing at the finger stocks for punishment. Starvation is pretty self explanatory. They would keep and starve the victim usually for information. Pressing was used for the same goal as starving but was done so more terribly. A very heavy block was placed on the victim until the victim could no longer stand it and released the information wanted. By Tessa Fanning The Brank had many names. It could also be called the Gossip's Bridle, Bride's Scold or Scold's Bridle. It was a metal bridle that a spiked metal strip. The strip was placed in the mouth so whenever the victim tried to talk, it would cause serious damage to the tongue. It was used for mostly women who gossiped or talked too much about controversial or secret things. Jail cells aren't really a official punishment but they were horrible in their own way. They were used to hold the accused and since no one treated the accused with any respect, the jail cells weren't very comfortable. They were cold, pitch black, and filled with disgusting vermin. The cells were intentionally kept like that. The Drunkard's Cloak was a form of punishment for people caught drunk without assistance. A barrel with holes for hands and head was worn instead of clothes. The person was then forced to walk clumsily while people in town laughed and taunted the victim. The Whipping Post is pretty self-explanatory. Its a post where the victim would get whipped a certain number of times. The victim was chained and sometimes was whipped on bare skin. The Ducking Stool, or correcting scold as it's also known as, was used for gossiping women but also used for testing if someone is a witch. The victim was placed on a chair with the chair being hung onto one side of a lever. The victim would then be dunked repeatedly into water. To test for witches, the Elizabethans used a very simple rule; you float you're a witch. There are different variations. This is just one of them. Scavenger's Daughter, also known as Skeffington's Irons, was torture device that locked the victim into a squatting position and squeezed the victim until told the info wanted or until blood poured out of the victim's ears and/or nose. The Thumbscrews was a vice to crush digits (thumbs, toes, fingers, etc.). A good aspect of this one was that it was portable. It was mostly used to get information out of someone. The Collar was placed in a public area where the victim had to sit in a chair with their head sticking out from the center of a large wide plank. It was made so that the victim couldn't feed him/herself and had to rely on the kindness of others for food. It was pretty easy to get punished. Any crime committed was instantly punished. In court, trials favored the accuser. The defendant didn't even get an attorney. Sometimes people were falsely accused. Since trials favored the accuser, they would get punished. The nobility committed more political crimes while commoners committed simple crimes just to survive. Nobility crimes most commonly committed were:
Alchemy High Treason was punished by Hung, Drawn, and Quartering the offender. The Queen hated any kind of treason so rebellion, sedation, and blasphemy toward her did not end well. The Elizabethan people hated any kind of magic talk so witchcraft and alchemy were punishable by death. Commoner crimes were crimes that were committed usually to survive. The most common ones include:
Dice Coggers (cheaters)
Begging Time was also important for crimes. Poaching at night resulted in death while poaching in the daytime let you live. Money was a big factor back then. Any theft for stealing more than five pence resulted in hanging. Most of the crimes were related to getting money. Theft, cut purses, debtors, forgery, and dice coggers were all committed because of money. Begging was illegal. If you were found to be begging, you would be beaten harshly. Repeated offenders were hung. Even outsiders could break the law. Any travelers without a license were punished. Of course if you were a popular traveler, like a famous circus, people would less likely want to check your papers and you could easily get away with the crime. Execution was cruel and unusual in the Elizabethan era. Executions were for public spectacle. The body or parts of it were sometimes placed as a warning for others. Most of the executions made the victim suffer for a very long time. There wasn't really a instant death in any execution. Some executions include:
Starvation in Cage
Drowning/Suffocation with Water
Hung, Drawn, Quartered
Beheaded Hanging is when they put a rope around the victim's head while they stand on a platform. The platform is then pulled away so gravity pulls on the body, tightens the rope and suffocates the victim. Victims could also be hung by hanging them from high up then letting their bodies dangle. Burning is when they tie the victim to a pole in the middle of the makings of a bonfire then set them alight. The victim could die by being burned alive or suffocation of smoke. Sometimes they would put gunpowder in the fire to make the victim's death faster. Boiling is when the victim would be placed in a pot of boiling water to die. Poisoners would be boiled in lead instead. The Wheel is an execution device where the victim is tied to a large wheel and slowly turned as people whack the victim with a hammer/mallet until he/she is dead. Sometime to be kind, a person would whack a vital organ so the victim would die faster. Starvation in Cages is when the victim would be hung in a cage in a public place so as people walk by, they can see him/her slowly starve. The Rack is an execution device where the hands are tied to one roller and the feet are tied to the other roller. The rollers are rotated away from each other until the victim's limbs are ripped off. Iron Maiden was like a big coffin with the insides filled with spikes. The spikes were purposely placed so that vital organs were impaled. Drowning or Suffocation by Water is death by water. Drowning is being drowned. Suffocation by water is when they put a horn in the victim's mouth and forced him/her to drink gallons of water until the victim couldn't keep up and suffocated. Being Quartered is when the victim's limbs are each tied to a horse that stands away from the body. First the riders make the horses do short jerks then gallop away at the same time. Sometimes the victim's limbs wouldn't tear off so they had to cut them off. The Amputation Saw is worse than being beheaded because the saw would take awhile to cut the head off Disembowelment is when the innards are taken out and burned in front of the victim as he/she dies. Hung, Drawn, and Quartered is by far the most horrible punishment. The victim is hung until almost dead, disemboweled and quartered. The quartered part is different in that the limbs were usually cut off by an ax. The limbs were then displayed in a predetermined location for everyone to see. Beheaded is when the victim's head was cut off by an ax. Usually it took a couple of whacks before the head separated from the body unless the ax was really sharp. Beheadment was actually seen as the most noble way to die. The victim retains consciousness for 8 seconds after beheadment. The head was taken by the hair and shown to the crowd, not so the crowd could see the head but so the head could see the crowd. The head was then impaled and kept in a popular place such as the London Bridge. The End Citation: