__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.
How many people were executed (put to death) during the reign
of Henry VIII? Some 70,000 people suffered the death penalty during the
reign of Henry VIII.
Methods of execution were:
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.
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.
Women found guilty of either treason or petty treason were sentenced to be
burned alive at the stake.
Being 'pressed' It is a punishment where the victim was crushed. Boiled alive
for attempting to murder someone you could be boiled alive in a big bowl of hot
Lesser punishments for committing crime
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!
Branding with hot iron
hot iron was used to burn letters onto the skin of offenders' hands, arms or
cheeks. A murderer would be branded with the letter 'M', vagrants/beggars with the
letter 'V', and thieves with the letter 'T'. The pillory
The pillory was a T shaped block of wood with holes for the hands and head. The person being punished would have to stand in the device
in the middle of the market to be mocked by passers-by. The stocks
Stocks were used in the same way as the pillory, except that with stocks, the
feet were tied up. The stocks were a block of wood with two holes for your feet
to go in. Local people threw rubbish and rotten eggs at people in the stocks.
The ducking stool
Accused witches were dunked into a river, to see if they were innocent or
guilty. If they floated, they were considered guilty and burnt at the stake. If
they sank, they were innocent but died anyway, by drowning. Either way, they died.
the brank was a punishment for women who gossiped or spoke too freely.
It was a large iron frame placed on the head of the person, forming a
type of cage. There was a metal strip on the brank that went into the mouth and
was either sharpened to a point or covered with spikes so if they tried to talk they got severe injuries in the mouth.
Limbs cut off
some people who stole things from shops had their hands cut off.
The Drunkard's Cloak
this was a punishment for public drunkenness. The drunk was forced to wear a
barrel and wander through town while the villagers laugh at him. Holes were cut
in the barrel for the person's hands and head, causing it to become like a
heavy, awkward shirt.