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Casey Dolkens Mr Neuper 8C

Definition
In the early Feudal System, different courts dealt with different types of offences. Minor matters such as a nagging wife was dealt by village courts. More serious matters such as heresy were dealt by the church courts. Other offences such as rebellion were dealt by the Kings court. The courts had regular intervals to law breakers. There were three places, the parish church, the building owned by the lord or by the oldest tree in the kingdom. The Kingdoms in the middle ages had small villages all around them. All villages had a list of local by-laws. All the laws were listed in a document called the custumal. If a villager saw someone break any by-laws they then became responsible to raise the alarm, chase after them and if possible detain the law breaker. In some cases, if a villager did not attempt to chase he/she would be charged as well. When crimes were committed in the middle ages the court would either execute the law breakers or send them to the torture chambers. Torture chambers were found in many castles usually in the lowest room in the castle. There were no fixed set of rules for treatment. Some tortures used were; hung, drawn and quartered, rat torture, head crusher, saw torture, foot roasting and flaying torture.

Sources
There have been many historians in the past, however not many historians have wrote about medieval punishments. When I was searching this topic not many historians names have come up. I did though find a few major historians from the time period. They include; Gildas, Bede, Asser, Ethelweard, William and John of Worcester. As shown, there are not many names from the time period. I believe it was because peasants and villagers were too scared of the punishments that would be inflicted on them. Some historians from our time period though have written about medieval punishment based on fossils and primary sources they have found. They include; Michael Antonio, Lucy Inglis, Stephen Copper and Richard Almound.

Background
What factors lead to the punishments?
Different punishments varied on different offences. Offences such as a nagging wife were dealt with punishments such as a scodal brace or the offender would be dumped in a lake or river. Theft and treason were punishable by death such as hanging and thieves could also

Casey Dolkens Mr Neuper 8C

get their hands chopped off. Rare cases such as rebellion were dealt by the kings court and were punishable by death, any torture and the torture used regularly to rebellion was the rat torture.

Effects
What was the impact of individuals in society?
The punishments in the middle ages effected society deeply. Citizens were too scared to question the way of life. The punishments impacted their beliefs, jobs and day to day life. People of the Kingdom knew they could not go against anything the King said or they could go to the torture chambers. No-on ever questioned church as they knew they would be declared a heretic or a witch. Woman would never quarrel with other woman and no-body could work on Sundays. Citizens were always under pressure to do their jobs correctly or they could be put on a stock for public embarrassment and they always lived in fear and uncertainty.

Reflection
How does Middle Ages punishments compare to todays?
H 523 words.