Crimes such as kidnapping and burglary were very common in Medieval times. During this period in history, it was strongly believed that the threat of harsh punishments was the only way to deter criminals.
In Medieval times, law enforcement did not exist as it does in the 21st century, so it was largely up to the community to enforce the law. Due to the lack of structured judicial system, harsh punishments were common for all types of crimes, not simply reserved for heinous ones.Punishment was not uniform, so all criminals were not punished the same, even if they committed the same acts. Some common forms of punishment during that era included:
- Public shaming
- Torture, including cutting off various body parts
Medieval TrialsIn some areas, those accused of serious crimes such as murder faced the King's Court. At the King's Court, the accused would face an ordeal to determine their guilt. During some of the trials, the accused would be handed a hot iron bar to hold. After holding it for a specified amount of time, it was removed and they were bandaged up. Three days later, the accused would reappear in the King's Court and if the wound began to heal, they were declared innocent. If the wound was not healing, they were found guilty. Other torturous methods were also used to determine innocence or guilt.