The Middle Ages is often depicted as a series of public executions. A considerable portion of stereotypes was successfully planted by the cinema, which relished the horrors and torments of people in the Dark Ages. But actually it was not quite so.

10 - Without trial

Many medieval societies actually had a judicial system, although cases were dealt with much more quickly than in a modern court. On average, the trial lasted a little less than half an hour. If desired, the judge could simply ask a few questions and issue a verdict without even consulting the jury.

9 - Lawlessness

In fact, the society of the early Middle Ages required more social responsibility than modern society. If one of the residents stated that they had been dishonest with him, then his right was to declare the search for the criminal and all who did not take part in the pursuit would be considered accomplices.

8 - Pious people

The Middle Ages are indeed very strongly associated with religion. The church even had its own justice system. But criminals, according to “worldly” laws, could well have taken refuge in the walls of the church and thus hide from the state.

7 - Out of sight / mind

Criminals who committed no serious crimes were warned, and then simply expelled from the settlement. Instead of executing them or overcrowding prisons, society simply got rid of them, banishing them and forbidding them to return. Effective if you do not take into account neighboring cities.

6 - Punishment for any misconduct

Hollywood films make us think that in the Middle Ages they killed for any misconduct - from slapping a soldier to stealing chickens from the royal court. In fact, capital punishment was applied only to those who committed the most serious crimes, including murder, treason and arson. Most often criminals were hanged.

5 - Kings above the law?

There is some truth in this. Indeed, the crowned persons had some privileges in terms of laws, but in most European countries there were limiting factors that prevented kings from doing anything. The English Magna Carta, which limited the financial resources of the royal family, is just one example.

4 - Public chopping off of the head weekly?

Head deprivation, quick and painless in the case of a well-honed ax and a skilled executioner, was considered a penalty for privileged persons. Ordinary people were extremely rarely executed in this way. Most often, traitors were executed like this, and the process itself took place outside the walls of the castles.

3 - Time of fire?

Some “witches” (in any case, they were considered by the prosecutors) were indeed convicted and burned in the Middle Ages, but the bulk of the world-famous bonfires of the Inquisition were ignited only during the Reformation (after 1550). But, for example, in England, even at the peak of the “witch's” hysteria, bonfires were rarely lit. Usually witches just hung.

2 - Cut off hands, cut off ears

Crippling criminals, such as injuring hands or cutting ears, was indeed sometimes used in big cities like London, but for the most part it was an empty threat that kept potential criminals within the law.

1 - On his rack!

Captured in the film “Braveheart”, the stretch sacrifice in different directions was not actually used in England until the very end of the 15th century. It began to be used with other torture instruments in the 1500s, when Queen Elizabeth I and other European monarchs came to grips with crowding out religious opponents from their countries.

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