The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Twenty-Three – Historical Tidbit

Have you ever wished that your boss could spend a day in your shoes? For them to have to follow the same rules they impose upon you? Well the people of England got that chance in Chapter 23 (though they didn’t know it). Edward ends up being on the other side of the law after being accused of stealing a pig. Today’s Historical Tidbit is about…


Keep reading or watch the video below to learn more.

While Edward is on trial, we find out that the crime he has been accused of has an extremely harsh punishment, which shocks everyone in the room.

“‘ ’Tis a poor ignorant lad, and mayhap was driven hard by hunger, for these be grievous times for the unfortunate; mark you, he hath not an evil face—but when hunger driveth—Good woman! dost know that when one steals a thing above the value of thirteenpence ha’penny the law saith he shall hang for it?’” (p. 144)

Common Methods of Execution

  • Beheading- treason; more likely for rich people
  • Hanging- stealing, treason, rebellion
  • Burning- women accused of treason
  • Being ‘pressed’
  • Boiled Alive- murder

Common Methods of Punishment

  • Whipping- stealing
  • Branding with hot irons- murder, stealing
  • Pillory/stocks
  • Ducking stool- being accused of witchcraft
  • The Brank- gossiping

Why were the punishments so harsh?

  • Harsh punishments deter criminals from repeating the crime
    • Also others who see the punishment
  • Also a source of entertainment

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