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GCSE Revision 2008. Crime and Punishment. nmg08. Paper One – Possible topics. Saxon and Norman Justice How did the Saxons prevent crime? How did they catch lawbreakers? How were criminals punished? How harsh and superstitious was Saxon Justice?. Saxon Justice.

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Gcse revision 2008

GCSE Revision 2008

Crime and Punishment


Paper one possible topics
Paper One – Possible topics

Saxon and Norman Justice

  • How did the Saxons prevent crime?

  • How did they catch lawbreakers?

  • How were criminals punished?

  • How harsh and superstitious was Saxon Justice?

Saxon justice
Saxon Justice

Saxons used a group approach-the Tithing

Criminals would be chased by the Hue and Cry

Common assaults and theft would be dealt with by forcing the accused to pay compensation or Wergild to the victim

Sometimes criminals were executed

Sometimes God would decide through trial by ordeal

Guilt was decided by juries who knew both accused and accuser

Juries would swear an oath of COMPURGATION as to an accused’s innocence

Norman justice
Norman Justice

  • Regime changed in 1066 following Norman victory at Hastings

  • Was there much change in how law and order was kept?

  • Was Norman justice more cruel and harsher than Saxon justice?

Norman justice1
Norman Justice

Kept Trial by



Forest Laws

Crime now seen as

against King

Much of Saxon system

kept by William


Wergild abolished

Fines now paid to the


Trial by Combat

Late middle ages

Still no police force

Tithings still used to keep law and order

Criminals pursued by the Hue and Cry

Deaths investigated by the Coroner

Sheriffs responsible for Law and Order

Trial by ordeal ended in 1215

Serious cases heard by Royal judges who travelled the country

Juries deciding guilt or innocence

Wergild no longer applied

Serious crimes punished by death or mutilation

Non attendees at court could be declared OUTLAW

Local manor courts dealt with minor crimes

Late Middle Ages

What can we learn from robin hood
What can we learn from Robin Hood?

  • Myth or legend?

  • Symbol of freedom against harsh Forest Laws?

  • Many people were outlaws!

  • Folvilles more typical of outlaw gangs

Protest 1300 1700
Protest 1300-1700

  • Rebellions against the king by nobles were quite common

  • Rebels & heretics savagely and publicly executed

  • Rebellions by ordinary people were rarer but again were savagely punished

1 the peasant s revolt 1381
1) The Peasant’s Revolt 1381

  • Demands were for more freedom and higher wages

  • Rebels marched on London – killed 2 of king’s advisers

  • Leader Wat Tyler was killed

  • Richard II promised justice but many peasants were hanged

2 pilgrimage of grace 1549
2) Pilgrimage of Grace 1549

  • Protesters led by Robert Aske

  • Wanted to undo religious changes made by Henry VIII & cut in taxes

  • Protest peaceful but Aske hanged, drawn and quartered

  • 200 others also executed

3 kett s rebellion 1549
3) Kett’s Rebellion 1549

  • Causes: rising food prices, farmland lost to sheep raising

  • Peaceful protest led by Robert Kett

  • Later attempted armed protest

  • King sent 10,000 troops – 3000 rebels died

  • Kett & 50 others executed

4 the gunpowder plot 1605
4) The Gunpowder Plot 1605

  • Plot by Catholic gentry to kill James I and to replace him with his daughter

  • Plan was to blow up Parliament 5th November

  • Plot discovered – Fawkes arrested along with many others

  • Survivors hanged, drawn & quartered

1500 1750

  • Era of the ‘Bloody Code’

  • By 1750 there were over 200 capital crimes

  • Old punishments still remained e.g. pillory, stocks, fines

  • New punishments included ‘Bridewells’ (Houses of Correction) & Transportation

  • Prison was only used for debtors

More travel by road

encouraged Highway


Poverty & lack of

work created




Still no


High level of tax on

Many imports led to


Many people in countryside

Hunting deer & rabbits.

Punishable by Death

1750 1900 change in attitude
1750-1900: Change in attitude?

  • 1750 severe punishments for large number of crimes seen as deterrent

  • Realisation that public executions causing more problems than solutions

  • Juries failing to convict

  • Mixed views on the effectiveness of transportation

  • Capital punishment should be replaced by prison & hard labour

Public Executions

Seen by many as chance for a day out – crowds laughed and drank – good opportunities for fighting and stealing!

“All the aims of public justice are defeated. All the effects of example, the terrors of death, the shame of punishment, are lost”

(London magistrates, 1783)

“ … a man who has picked the pocket of a handkerchief worth 13 pence is punished with

the same severity as if he had murdered a whole family. None should be punished with death except in cases of murder.”

(Sir William Meredith, MP 1770)

Calls for reform

Was transportation a success


Used often by courts

Succeeded in reforming convicts

Very few returned to England

Cost too much - £½ million per year by 1850

More prisons – cheaper to run

Crime rate had not fallen

Seen by many as opportunity rather than punishment

Was transportation a success?

The development of the police
The Development of the Police

For centuries constables

& watchmen used –

unpaid & inefficient!

Fielding Brothers (London Magistrates)

introduced Bow Street Runners)

Metropolitan police act 1829
Metropolitan Police Act, 1829

  • Sir Robert Peel (Home Secretary) had already reduced number of capital crimes

  • Persuaded Parliament to pass act

  • Deliberate move away from image of the Army

Changing attitudes towards the police
Changing attitudes towards the police?

Police seen as?

NB the dates are 50 years apart –

Does this mean that there was still a lot of opposition to the police?

There had been opposition to the idea of a national police force for many years. The fear was that the government would use it to cut down on people’s freedom, as well as the cost of such a scheme!

Peel was careful to avoid any link with the Army with his ‘Peelers’

Gradually the new police gained support and acceptance