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Word Count: 490
During the Elizabethan Era courts were commonly regarded as being of a corrupt nature One member of Parliament defined a justice of the peace as an animal who for half-a-dozen chickens would dispense with a dozen laws Criminal law was completely dependent upon deterrents as opposed to surveillance or detection laws were weak but punishments were severe was the statutory penalty for any of two hundred offenses These offenses included blackmail cutting down young trees and theft of over one schilling As such an average Elizabethan year saw eight-hundred people hanged in England for crime Less severe crimes such as theft of less than a schilling led to the offenders being punished by the pillory the stool whipping at the carts tail burning a hole in the ears or the tongue cutting out the tongue or cutting off an ear or a hand During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I thumbscrews were used to obtain confessions from prisoners The function of these instruments was simple The prisoner was required to place his thumbs inside the space between the pieces of metal which were held together by screws The screws were gradually tightened causing the pieces of metal to crush the thumbs If a confession was still not obtained then more severe was implemented For this reason many confessions of prisoners were fabricated so that they could escape If they were unfortunate enough to be caught in a lie then was a virtual guarantee I am sure you ask but why not try to resist Surely they cannot force me to place my thumbs in the thumbscrews This is absolutely correct however if you would dare to be so bold then they would not bother with the thumbscrews anymore Now you would be held in contempt and if you escaped then you would be administered much more
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