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However there were worse ways of killing people. In a law in England made burning the penalty for heresy. In the 16th century during the reign of Mary nearly Protestants were burned to death in England. Sometimes a person about to be burned was strangled with a rope first to spare them pain.

A brief history of capital punishment in Britain

However in a horrible variation on this punishment in Henry VIII passed an act allowing poisoners to be boiled alive but the act was repealed after his death in Fines were another form of Tudor punishment. During the reign of Elizabeth I people could be fined for not attending church.

There was always a carnival atmosphere and pie sellers, ale merchants and producers of execution memorabilia did a good trade. Methods of execution were: Beheading this was a punishment 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 committed crimes were more likely to be beheaded than hung.

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Hanging A piece of rope was put around the neck making it hard for the person to breathe. People were hung for crimes such as stealing, treason, rebellion, riot or murder.

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Being 'pressed' It is a punishment where the victim was crushed. Lesser punishments for committing crime included: Whipping many towns had a whipping post. The victim was chained to the post, and whipped. You could be whipped for stealing a loaf of bread! The middle ages was a time of severe punishment and harsh torture for crimes that today would seem trivial. People were beheaded and limbs cut off, vagabonds were often whipped and chained in stocks. Even the Catholic Church used torture and imprisonment to obtain confessions from people regardless of whether they were guilty.

Execution in the Middle Ages | TV Shows | HISTORY

Torture and punishment has existed for thousands of years. Roman and Greek law stated that only slaves were allowed to be tortured, eventually the laws changed and free men were tortured and imprisoned for committing crimes. Suffocating people in water was a common practice.


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People were boiled in oil, eyes were burned out with pincher's and fingers torn off. Mutilation and branding's were common place. During Tudor times English laws was practically geared toward torture.


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  • Vagrancy was considered a crime and people were put in stocks so towns people could beat them. It was the poorer classes that were discriminated against. Lords and high official's were exempt. Courts and judges did exist, but were bias and often judgements were known before the case was even heard, if a person did not turn up to court they were considered an outlaw and their property was seized and became the kings.

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    The harsher the crime the more horrendous the punishment, If a man committed Rape, Manslaughter or Robbery they would be hung up in a cage so people could see their slow death. On some occasions they were taken down just before their death and quartered cut into four pieces so that the pain would kill them, a most cruel way to die. Public displays of torture were common.