The punishments meted out by the various
courts of medieval England were:
- The death penalty for serious
offences, (see Case
- Fines, for most petty offences.
- Criminals who were felt to have offended
the public were put in the stocks (see Source
2). This is called a "shaming punishment"
as it humiliated the offender in front of his or her neighbours.
But it was all over quickly. Another shaming punishment
was the ducking stool, for women the village disapproved
- Prisons (gaols), often in castles like
the Tower of London, were used in a few cases, but they
were usually used to hold on to a prisoner awaiting trial.
Church Courts and Sanctuary: Throughout
the middle ages, the Church had its own courts. These tried
crimes of a religious nature: blaspheming, failure to attend
church etc. They claimed the right to try anyone who was a
member of the church. Further, anyone on the run from the
law could claim "sanctuary" by going into a church.
The pursuers could not follow and the offender was allowed
to leave the country.