Crime and Punishment

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Elizabethan England was split into 2 classes; the upper class (nobility) and everyone else. Punishment would vary according to the class. The Upper class were well educated, wealthy and associated with royalty and high members of the clergy. They would become involved in political schemes and therefore the nobility could become involved in crime which were not shared by other people. The most common crimes were: -high treason


Just being accused of a crime, with no proof, could result in torture or death. Depending on the crime. Those that are accused of heresy, (religious opinions that conflict with the church's religion) treason, or murder, received the harshest punishment; death.

Heretics were burned to death at the stake. Traitors were hanged for a short period and cut down while they were still alive. They were then disembowelled and their intestines were thrown into a fire or a pot of boiling water. Next, their arms and legs were cut off. Finally, they were beheaded. This may seem cruel, but back then it was a normal occurrence.

The most common crimes were theft, cut purses, begging, poaching, adultery, forgers, and fraud. Theft for stealing anything over 5 pence resulted in hanging. Taking birds eggs was also a crime and could result in a death sentence, Punishment for poaching crimes differs according to when the crime was committed. If it was done during the night, the punishment was death, if it was during the day, it was nothing.

Another major crime was travelling without a licence. This law ensured that the spread of disease especially the plague, was contained as much as possible and that the poor and the homeless did not travel from one village to another. The trick to lowering the crime levels in England. William Shakespeare would have required a licence to travel to stick to the law of the land and its decision to move to London would have been a serious one and no...
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