Middle Ages Crime and Punishment Activity for Kids

Week 22: We made punishment devices.

The justice system of the middle ages was a part of the feudal system. The lord which controlled the land also heard cases and handed down sentences. Since there were many lords controlling the justice system, punishment varied greatly. Appeal was only possible through the king.

Theft and robbery were everyday crimes and usually committed by the poor. Smuggling was common as taxes were levied on many standard goods. Murder was a problem as were other crimes such as arson and receiving stolen goods. In addition, anything that disturbed the peace was considered a crime such as public drunkenness, fighting, loud and rude behavior, gossip, speaking out against the king or church, and making a mess while eating.

Physical torture, humiliation and fines were the most common punishments for medieval crimes. Since fines increased the wealth of the lord handing down the sentence they were a popular choice. Medieval torture was brutal as it often involved permanent bodily disfigurement or death. Humiliation punishment was used for lesser crimes.

Since this was a lesson for young children, the primary focus was the humiliation punishment of the middle ages. This presentation can be downloaded for personal or classroom use.

Punishment Device Creation
Beginning with a variety of recyclable materials such as tissue boxes, yogurt containers, toilet paper rolls, cardboard, toothpicks, paper plates, egg cartons and glue, punishment and humiliation devices were created entirely by the kids. The assignment was very open ended which allowed the children to use their creativity.

Here are the devices they produced.

 The person being punished puts a hand inside the tissue box and is poked by the toothpicks.

This mask is for a person who gossips too much. Someone who hears everything (notice the large ears) and tells all (the big mouth) would wear this mask in the town center square to be ridiculed.

 This is a guillotine.

 With this device the person being punished sticks a hand into the opening to be poked from four directions.

 This is another hand poking device.

 This is a humiliation mask for someone who sees all and gossips about what was seen.

 This is a pig mask for a person who eats like a pig (messy eater). It would be worn in the town square.

This is a spiky chair used to gain confessions from a person watching a loved one being forced to sit.

For more hands-on history visit our History Page.

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