Punishment In The Middle Ages Essay

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The fall of the Roman Empire marked the Middle Ages from 500ce to 1500ce which brought with it new ideas and systems. As medieval society developed, changes and consistencies occurred in law and order. In particular, continuity and change occurred in punishments, trial procedures, and court systems.

Punishments in the Middle Ages were harsh and horrific, with change occurring as heads of state and laws changed. In the Middle Ages, punishments were used as a deterrent to gain peasants obedience. Types of punishments included torture, mutilation, and public humiliation. When the Normans invaded England in the 11th century, (Norman Conquest of England, 2017) many changes were made to punishments. William the Conqueror used the death penalty
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In the Early Middle Ages, only Trial by Ordeal was used. This trial was based on the belief that God would save the Innocent and punish the guilty and had horrific methods, such as placing an arm in boiling water or holding an iron bar. (Tol & Zagora 2014, p. 63) With the Norman Conquest in 1066, William the Conqueror introduced trial by combat (Rickards, 2012). Trial by combat was used for the nobles, where the accused would fight the accuser. William the Conqueror believed that God would protect the Innocent when the parties fought. The guilty would’ve then be punished severely (Easton & Saldais 2011, pp. 330, 331). With the creation of the Magna Carta in 1215 (Trueman, 2016) there were many changes to the Trial Procedures. The Magna Carta abolished Trial by Ordeal and replaced it with Trial by Jury, which involved a jury hearing a case and deciding the guilt or innocence of the accused. Many people didn’t trust trial by jury, which led to a law being created in 1275 stating that if a criminal didn’t choose trial by jury then they were tortured (Addison, et al. 2011). Therefore, evidence shows changes in power and laws transformed trial
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