Imagine a place where hockey games or the latest Snooki & J-Wow news didn’t complete the circle of gossip and entertainment, but rather the beheading or hanging of a criminal. In Elizabethan England punishments and crimes were extremely excruciating and the Tower of London inflicted immense fear into citizens. Even in 1558, crimes were just as prominent as they are today. In fact, murder rates may have been slightly higher in the sixteenth century than they were in the late twentieth century. People in the Elizabethan Era believed in social order, with God as the top authority. Anything and everything that could threaten the social order was seriously frowned upon and most people convicted of these crimes (such as heresy, treason, conflicting religious beliefs, and murder) would receive the most gruesome punishment…death. Many crimes resulted in odd of crazy punishments, but that’s exactly how it was designed to be – punishments were meant to be painful and gruesome. Their main cause was to scare other members of society away from thoughts of committing such a crime. This hadn’t proved to work. However, not all punishments were guaranteed or “set in stone”. Nobility would often receive less harsh punishments, yet they still didn’t escape death. They were often hung or beheaded whereas “peasants” or everyday people who were traitors were hung for a short amount of time, cut down whilst still alive, then disemboweled. Their intestines were then thrown into a fire of a pot of boiling water before their arms and legs were cut off. To finish it off, they were beheaded and their heads were positioned on tall poles by the city gates. Now, realize that these executions were held in public for everyone to see. Not all crimes would result in crazy punishments, however. Some of the lesser crimes like robbery, theft, rape, and arson could lead to trials but the chances of winning were extremely low – trials were set up in favor of the prosecutor, not the defendant. Imagine...
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