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Laws, Crime, and Punishment In the Elizabethan Era

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Nina Kucheran

on 24 February 2015

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Transcript of Laws, Crime, and Punishment In the Elizabethan Era

by Nina Kucheran
Laws, Crime, and Punishment In the Elizabethan Era

Throughout the course of our history, the evolution of justice systems across the world have changed more than anyone could have suspected.
During the 16th and 17th century, the justice system in England created laws that were unique to past and present systems.
The laws, crimes and punishments in the Elizabethan era were by far the most cruel and unnecessary out of all eras in history.

If you committed a felony (crime) in the 16th and 17th century, England was definitely not the best place to be. The punishments given to criminals were ruthless and were even more unfair when it came to disciplining the poorer people of the country.
The Punishments
-During this era, various means of torture were used to extract confessions for crime.
-Women did not escape torture during these rough times.
- The highest nobles were automatically exempt from torture, but other courtiers were not.
Torture Methods
The sumptuary laws:
The Clothing Law for Women:

-every person who is above six years was to wear a woolen cap on Sundays and holidays.
-limitation on velvet, leopard fur, silk embroidery, enameled chains, buttons, agelets and borders permitted only to the upper class
- fabrics like velvet, furs, laces on the dresses made of gold or silver were only for the women belonging to the wealthy classes, or the wives of Knights of the Garter and the Privy Council, Privy Chamber and Maids of Honour
-only the Dutchesses, Marquises and the Countesses could wear any cloth made of silk, fur or tissue.
-silk, satin, mixed or embroidered clothes having gold, silver or even pearl on them was srtictly reserved for the aristocratic class.

The Clothing Laws for Men:

-every person who is above six years was to wear a woolen cap on Sundays and holidays
-clothing and fabric specifically assigned to people based on their social ranking
-clothes made of gold, silver, silk, satin, mixed or embroidered with gold or silver was to be worn only by the upper class or the aristocratic class
-caps made from woolen cloth, velvet, crimson, fur, lucernes, hats, caps, hatbands that were trimmed with gold, pearl or silver; silk netherstocks, buttons were all reserved for the rich only
-only the Knights and Barons sons and men holding high ranking in the Qeuuen's court or office were permitted to were spurs, swords, daggers, wood knives and gridles
During her reign, Queen Elizabeth established laws that were preposterous and that lacked common sense.
It was against the law to be a catholic.
Church attendance was required.
Because of this...
Queen Mary (Elizabeth's half sister)
= Catholic
Time of reign: 1553-1558
Queen Elizabeth
= Protestant
Time of reign: 1558-1603
Various Plots were aimed at replacing Elizabeth with a catholic monarch and returning England to the 'old religion'.
The two main religions were the Protestant and Catholic religion.
Vagrants were
sold into slavery.
In the 16th and 17th century, the majority of the population was poor. They were divided into three classes:
The Helpless poor
The Able bodied poor
Rogues and Vagabonds
They were the group targeted by the government, because they were people who could work, but preferred to beg or steal. This group worried the government, because they were the most likely to get into trouble.
Because of this, they could be bought and kept as slaves.
The laws
was illegal!!!
-Many people attempted suicide during this era.
-If you were successful in your suicide attempt, the government would have you buried in disgrace outside or your city's limits and you were then considered a condemned soul.
-The reason for this is because they believed that your life revolved around God, so you should not waste it.
-To commit self murder was believed to be the result of influence by the devil.
Many other bizarre laws made by the Queen include:
-Ship owners could legally kidnap single men to crew sailing ships.
-It was illegal for a women to eat chocolate on a public carriage or any other mode of transportation.
-Citizens were required to maintain the roads voluntarily.
-It was illegal to leave baggage unattended, and picking up abandoned baggage was considered an act of terrorism.
-Placing a postage stamp that bears a picture of the monarch upside down indicated treason and the punishment was a life sentence in prison.
If we take into consideration our rights as humans nowadays, these laws are absurd and show poor leadership.
Criminal infraction was divided into three categories:
treason, felonies, and misdemeanors.
The Elizabethan society was divided into two classes: the nobility and the commoners, and punishment types varied according to the social class of the culprit.
The nobility
The nobility would often get punished for committing the following crimes:
-high treason

However, the most common method of execution for the upper class was beheading.
*to ridicule the criminals, the executioners would place their heads in public places, like the London bridge.
*After being beheaded, your
consciousness remains for 8 seconds.
So, once the head was severed,
the executioers would lift the head
of the criminal to see the crowd and
it's own body.
Margaret Pole
Maragret Pole, the 68 year old Countess or Salisbury in England was sentenced to exection by beheading. She was dragged to the block, but she refused to lay her head down and cooperate. She was forced down and she struggled immensely . The executioner, who had very little experience made a gash in her shoulder instead of her neck by accident. She lept from the block, and was chased by the executioner, with his axe. She was struck 11 times before she finally died.
The Commoners
The lower class would often get punished for committing the following crimes:
-being in dept
-petty theft

-traveling without a
license from the Guide Hall
-taking a birds eggs
Punishments could include:
-the pillory
Popular death punishments for the commoners
-death by hanging or removing the culprit's internal organs (mostly for treason)
-Being hung, drawn, and quartered
-death by burning

-being boiled to death
In 1590, Henry Willard of Dartford England was sentenced to hang for stealing a
Instruments and means of torture, even for unproven rime, include the following.
For instance, Anne Askew was put to the rack for her religious beliefs ad died shorty after.
The Rack
The Scavengers Daughter
The Iron Maiden
The Pillory
Branding irons

Thank you for your attention!!
Other means of torture include:
-starvation in public places
-boiling in water or lead
-cutting of various parts of the body (ears, hands,etc)
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