High Price to Pay

Corporal punishment, public shaming, banishment, and fines are the penalties of the period. Execution is a grisly public event, often prolonged by torture methods that include drawing and quartering, peeling of the skin, boiling, and burning. Other corporal punishments include branding (the burning of a letter or image on the forehead or hand) and maiming (usually cutting off a body part, such as the hand, foot, or ear). Because execution and banishment result in the loss of labor, reliance on these punishments depends on the economic state of the community. Corporal punishment and fines dominate when labor is in short supply. The Inquisition, begun in 1224 to eradicate heresy, leads to the development of some of the most hideous tortures. A criminal is considered to have two debts to pay — one to the victim (or society) and one to God.

Beheading with a Sword
Beheading with a sword and a body broken on the Wheel, Anonymous, c.1417