Crime and Punishment – Tudor

There were no police during the Tudor times. However, laws were harsh and wrongdoing was severely punished. In Tudor times the punishments were very, very cruel. People believed if a criminal’s punishment was severe and painful enough, the act would not be repeated and others would deter from crime as well.

Entertainment – A public execution was an event not to be missed and people would queue through the night to get the best places. There was always a carnival atmosphere and pie sellers, ale merchants and producers of execution memorabilia did a good trade.  70,000 people suffered the death penalty during the reign of Henry VIII

Methods of execution included: Beheading (“Death by the Axe”) This was a punishnent that resulted in your head being chopped off! The heads were sometimes placed on spikes along London Bridge or other places. Beheading was considered less degrading than hanging, and it usually killed more quickly. Noblemen (rich) who commited crimes wre more likely to be beheaded than hung. Hanging from the gallows.  A piece of rope was put around the neck making it hard for the person to breathe. The person would be hung from the rope until he/she had stopped breathing and was dead. People were hung for crimes such as stealing, treason, rebellion, riot or murder.

Burning  Women found guilty of either treason or petty treason were sentenced to be burned alive at the stake Being ‘pressed’ (crushed)  Boiled alive  For attempting to murdering someone you could be boiled alive in a big bowl of hot water.

Crime and Punishment – Victorians

Gradually, through this period, the older “shaming” punishments like the stocks and the pillory fell out of use. So did whipping. Fewer and fewer people were hanged. Public executions became rowdy, lawless occasions, and many people thought they were barbaric. They were stopped in 1868 and from then onwards, hangings were carried out in private, in prison.For much of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century transportation was a common punishment. At first convicts were sent to America, then, after US independence in 1776, to Australia. The Victorian period saw great changes in how people were caught, arrested and charged to appear in court. The police force, as we know it today, did not exist until 1856. Before then, most places had only an unpaid parish constable to keep order.

The Victorians were very worried about crime. Levels rose sharply towards the end of the 18th century and continued to rise through much of the 19th century. Offences went up from about 5,000 per year in 1800 to about 20,000 per year in 1840.

Comedy Version of Trial by Ordeal

Follow these hyperlinks to learn more:-

  1. Primary Facts
  2. BBC Bitesize

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