Crime and Punishment in Elizabethan England

Topics: Death Penalty, Crime, Prison Pages: 2 (799 words) Published: August 21, 2012
During the Elizabethan Era, crime and punishment was a brutal source of punishments towards criminals. The term “crime and punishment” was a series of punishments and penalties the government gave towards the people who broke the laws. In William Harrison’s article “Crime and Punishment in Elizabethan England”, says that “the concept of incarcerating a person as punishment for a crime was a relatively novel at the time” (1). This seemed reasonable at the time, because back then they didn’t sentence life in prison to criminals, so the only way for the government to issue out punishments for criminals was abuse, or murder. During the renaissance, the most common punishable crimes were “theft, cut purses, begging, poaching, adultery, debtors, forgers, fraud and dice coggers” (Elizabethan Crime and Punishment, par. 2). These crimes are similar to the common crimes that occur today, but some of the crimes shouldn’t have resulted in the death penalty, for instance “taking bird’s eggs was also deemed to be a crime and could result in the death sentence” (Elizabethan Crime and Punishment, par. 2). For the crimes, there were many non-lethal forms of punishment. The main non-lethal form was torture. During the reign of Elizabeth l, “the most common means of Elizabethan era included stretching, burning, beating, and drowning.” (Different Kinds of Elizabethan Era Torture, par. 3). These were fair punishments, because anything is better than murder, and it is said that torture succeeded in breaking the will of dehumanizing the prisoner, and “Elizabeth l used torture more than any other monarchs in England’s history. However, murder was also the most common lethal punishment in Elizabethan Era. There were other lethal punishments, “including death by burning and beheading” (Elizabethan Crime and Punishment, par. 6). William Harrison describes the most dreadful punishment as “they are hanged till they be half dead, and then taken down, and quartered alive; after that, their...
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