Torture and Punishment in Elizabethan England
A notable time during the late middle ages was when Queen Elizabeth was in power, from 1558-1603.She was a dictating, powerful, and cruel monarch. She also believed in extreme punishment for crime, in order to run a peaceful country.The death penalty could be prescribed for any offense, even some as minor theft, or highway robbery.During this time, a person of higher social standing could accuse a peasant of a crime without any evidence.Chances are the peasant would be tortured until they admit to the crime.Frequently, the accused would be tortured to death.If he or she admitted to the crime, the punishment would be death, probably by hanging.During this era, many devices were invented to dehumanize, humiliate, or simply to be uncomfortable to the victim. For a severe crime, the devices used were often just to inflict the most amount of pain possible onto the victim.
One punishment for women who gossiped or spoke too freely was called "the brank".It was a large iron framework that enclosed the woman's head. It had a metal strip that fit into the mouth that was either sharpened to a point or covered with spikes, so that any attempt to speak would lead to severe injuries to the mouth.The woman was then led on a chain by a city official through the town, and tied to a whipping post or pillory to endure the cruel and verbally abusive public.
Another more severe punishment for women who gossiped or spoke too freely was "the ducking stool".The ducking stool was a wooden or iron chairthat was attached to a large lever system. The lever allowed the chair to be raised or lowered without tipping the chair, making it parallel to the ground at all times.It was always placed at the waters edge so that it could be dunked repeatedly underwater with the woman strapped to it.Based on the level of the offense and cruelty of the deciding party, t…