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The 2nd Best Bed

Elizabethan England

Shakespeare's Life
Shakespeare's Plays
More Plays
Elizabethan Theatre
Shakespeare's Achievements
The Globe
Elizabethan England

Crime and Punishment
Punishments have evolved in many ways since the 1500's. During the Elizabethan era, crimes of stealing and offenses against the state were treated with the same severity that murder and rape are treated today. During the sixteenth century, different nicknames were given to law-breakers. Priggers of prancers was a name for horse thieves, for example.
Often, the offender would be tied behind a horse, while it galloped at full speed dragging the person behind it. A victim would sometimes be in the audience to identify the criminal. 
The punishment would depend on the crime committed. Offenses such as manslaughter, robbery, rape, piracy, and really bad crimes usually ended in a hanging in the town square. Shockingly enough, if someone murdered a person, he would be taken from a prison on a sled, hanged until half-dead, then taken down and cut into quarters alive. Nobles were decapitated. A woman found guilty of poisoning her husband would be burned alive. A cook who poisoned his customers would be boiled to death in a cauldron of water or lead.
The interesting thing about punishments in the Elizabethan days was that all crimes were given a specifically punished.
Most leisure time was saved until after church on Sunday or on the holidays. People would sing, play music, or dance for amusement. Dances were usually for couples only, and varied between social classes. But the MOST popular entertainment was plays. People would go to the theatres, buy a ticket and watch a good play. There would usually be a different play on each week. Some Elizabethans liked to play games, such as dice, chess and checkers. These were the indoor games, and if these games weren't satisfying enough for you, you could wrestle. Outdoor games and sports included golf, horse racing, swimming, fishing, hunting, fencing, dueling and cricket.
Another major form of amusement was holding festivals and parties.
High class women would only be seen wearing expensive dresses. These were usually embroidered with fancy frills and cuts. The dresses would be floor-length with long sleeves. Women's underwear wouls be like a full body suit, which included a corset to make you look thinner. The lower classes would just wear simple dresses, usually handmade.
Higher class men wore very elaborate clothes. They would wear highly embroidered, loose-fitting pants and shirts, which looked alot like short dresses. They would have tights, and fully leather shoes. Lower class men wore simple pants and shirts.
Food and drink were a major part of Elizabethan life. At breafast, many people wanted a good diet. Instead of eating plain bread, many ate manchet. Manchet was a round loaf which weighed about six pounds after it was cooked. When bread was eaten in the morning, butter was used to flavour it so it was not as boring. Eggs were also eaten at breakfast. They were mixed with bread crumbs to fry things like fish. Pancakes were also poular. They were a treat for Sunday mornings. In earlier times, water was the main beverage. But as farms progressed, milk was in more demand. Wine was also popular.
For dinner and lunch, meat was the main food. They had beef, mutton, veal, turkey, chicken, partridge, other game birds, types of fish, and rabbit as the most popular meats. Vegetables were rarely eaten in the higher classes.
In Elizabethan times, most diseases were thought to be caused by smell. To try to stop diseases, people would carry posies. This was a small bag of flowers to sniff. At the time of the Bubonic plague, posies were plentiful. Most people reading this will know the rhyme "a-ring a-ring of roses". This was created at the time of the Bubonic plague. Try to figure it out:
A-ring a-ring of roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A tissue! A tissue!
We all fall down.
If a limb got very badly infected, sometimes the doctor would amputate it. But because there was no pain refief and no sterilisers, people would usually die. Women would often die in child-birth and babies would often die before the age of one. The average life-expectancy was under 45.

It was legal for a girl to get married at the age of 12, and for boys it was 14.

Only boys went to school, and girls were taught to cook and sew by their mothers.

An easy way to learn Shakespeare