The Elizabethan world was split into to two classes. There were different laws for different classes. The upper class were well educated and they were health. But the poor were very unhealthy and uneducated so some of them had to go to crime to survive. The punishments for crimes then were much more brutal than today’s punishments.
The worst crimes to commit were murder, rape, arson, manslaughter and witchcraft. These were called capital offences. The punishment for these crimes was being hanged for commoners and if you were a Noble you would be beheaded. Execution could be avoided by obtaining a royal pardon not many of these happened only about a hundred year.
Then there was capital crime which was stealing more than 12 shillings. One of the most common capital crimes was catpursing a capital crime. There were no pockets sewn in clothing and coins were carried in small leather pouches that hung from the waist. A thief might take a person's money by slitting open the bottom of the purse, or the strings that held the purse were cut, the weight of the coins sending the pouch to the ground where it was taken. Public gatherings such as plays, marketplaces, or fairs were favourite hangouts of the catpursing thieves. Robbery was also a capital crime when the goods were of value. Hooking was another common crime that happened often because there was no glass on windows. A hooker carried a wooden staff five or six feet long in which a little hole had been made at one end. A small hook was placed into this hole, and the hooker would use this device to reach inside open windows to steal clothing or purses when the people were sleeping inside, or when the rooms were not being used.
The most serious of all crimes in the Elizabethan Age was high treason, it was plotting to overthrow the queen. The punishment was very painful it was being hung, drawn and quartered. The traitor was hanged, taken down before he was dead, dragged face downward through the streets by a horse's tail, and then hacked into four pieces. The body parts were displayed in a public place, probably the most famous place were heads were put was the tower of London. This made an example of wrongdoers and made people who were going to commit treason think twice before they do it.
While torture seems barbaric today, it was used a lot during Shakespeare’s lifetime. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the most common means of Elizabethan era torture included stretching, burning, beating, and drowning. Torture at that time was used to punish a person for the crimes they had committed, make them scared and the group to which the person belongs to, gather information, and obtain a confession. Torture succeeded in breaking the will of the prisoner and scaring the prisoner, and justice during the Elizabethan era was served with the aid of this practice. In fact, it was said that Elizabeth I used torture more than any other monarchs in England's history.
The degree of torture that was applied was in accordance with the degree of the crime. Reportedly, women suffered from torture only rarely and lords and high officials were never tortured. Though many of today's crimes may be similar to those in Elizabethan England, the methods of punishment have definitely changed a lot. Most of the punishments of the Elizabethan period would be deemed cruel and unusual by today's standards.
One punishment about which there is not much to say is the whipping post. It was basically what the name says, a wooden post that the person was strapped to and whipped for the prescribed number of times. This method was first used during the reign of Henry VIII and then it continued through the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Also among the list of Elizabethan punishment methods were the stocks. The stocks were similar to the