Background Information of the Renaissance: Crime and Punishment
William Shakespeare was alive during the Elizabethan Era, the time when many news laws were made, that made crimes have dire consequences. William Shakespeare left his family to go to London. The reason remains unknown, but there were rumors that he was accused of poaching and fled. In order to travel to London, Shakespeare would have required a travel license to adhere with the law. Shakespeare went to London to be an actor. However, the reputations of actors were not good. Actors were considered a threat because many of them were vagabonds.
Every historical period has had its share of people who break the law and are punished for it, and the Elizabethan Age had very severe penalties for stealing, murdering, or committing treason. The consequences of such lawbreaking activities were not always the same for different individuals. How you were treated if you were accused of a crime depended on whether you were poor or rich, a commoner or a noble. Nobles were punished in a different way than the poor. The nobles were automatically exempt from torture, but the commoners were not. The poor were often punished by hanging, burning, the pillory and the stocks, whipping, and branding.
There were various punishments that were given. Hanging, burning, whipping, branding, pressing, boiling water oil, boiling lead, starvation in a public place, and cutting off various body parts were some of the punishments that were given. The greatest and most grievous punishment used in England for such as offend against the State is during from the prison to the place of execution upon an hurdle or sled, where they are hanged till they be half dead, and then taken down, and quartered alive; after that, their members and bowls are cut from their bodies, and thrown into a fire, provided near hand and within their own sight, even for the same purpose.
Theft for stealing anything over 5 pence (8 cents) resulted in...