Crime and Punishment in Tudor England
From Alchemists to Zealots
Imprint: Pen and Sword History
272 Pages, 6.1 x 9.2 in, 8pp mono plates
- October 2023
It was a watershed century for crime and punishment. Henry VII’s paranoia about the loyalty of the nobility led to military-trained vagrants causing mayhem and murder. Henry VIII’s Reformation meant executions of those refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy. State-controlled religion—summed up through the five reigns as Roman Catholic; Anglo-Catholic; Protestant; Roman Catholic, and Sort of Protestant but I don’t mind so long as you swear the Oath of Supremacy—became an increasingly complex, not to say confusing, issue for ordinary people.
Although primary sources are rare and sometimes incomplete, the life of criminals and the punishments meted out to them still fascinates. Read about John Daniell and how he tried to blackmail the Earl of Essex; the Stafford insurrection of 1486, the first serious opposition to the new king; the activities of con-man extraordinaire, Gregory Wisdom, and many more.
Crime and punishment didn’t start with the Tudors and this book summarizes judicial practices built on tradition from the Roman occupation. It covers often gory details—what happens to the body when it is beheaded, burned, boiled, or hanged? Arranged in alphabetical order of crimes, it recounts tales of blackmail, infanticide, kidnapping, heresy, and sumptuary laws.
Told with occasional low-key humor, the book also includes Tavern Talk, snippets of quirky information. Dip into it at your pleasure.