Did you know that both violent and property crime has been on a steady decline for a long time in the United States? You may not know it from watching the news, but it’s true; we are actually safer than we’ve ever been before. And while you would think that harsh punishments deter crime, historically our criminal punishment is also lighter than it was throughout history. A lot lighter, in most cases. For your entertainment, though not for the squeamish, here are some historical punishments used on people deemed criminals.


We’ll start with one most people are familiar with. Whether you’re talking about criminals getting beheaded by axe or sword in England or by guillotine in France, this was a common form of execution in both countries. Although the English typically reserved it for people of high birth. Beheading in these areas lasted well into the 18th century, the last person to be beheaded in the UK being a Scottish man named Simon Fraser in 1747.


An ancient practice for punishing criminals in some parts of Asia, bastinado is the act of beating a person hard on the soles of their feet with a stick. This was a time when shoes were lesser quality, and much harder to come by. Additionally, the soles of a person’s feet are very vulnerable, and the punishment was very painful as the person had to experience a resurgence of that pain every time they got up to walk.


This is probably one of the oldest forms of capital punishment in existence. Many cultures have used banishment to enforce social rules over the millennia. For the most part, in older civilizations, banishment was synonymous with a long, slow, and painful death.


Back to England, a common practice during the early 1500s was to burn poisoners alive as their punishment. There are a couple instances in history of cooks being burned alive after being accused of poisoning, including Richard Roose in 1532 and Margaret Davy in 1542. However, the law allowing boiling as punishment was repealed in 1547.


This is a punishment that spans many civilizations and parts of history. Not only did branding cause physical pain, but it also marked the criminal for the rest of their life.


This punishment was used for minor infractions and crimes, and was often used in schools of the time as well. Birching is simply the act of beating a person on their backside with a stick (often the sticks used were from birch trees, hence the name). This was an acceptable form of punishment in Britain all the way up to 1948, when the act was abolished.


Hopefully you found some of these punishments interesting, although thank god they aren’t around any more. If you want to ensure your home’s security, but also don’t like draconian punishment or violence, then we’ve got the perfect product for you. Our pepper spray home defense will incapacitate an intruder without causing any physical injury so that they can be tried in a court of law, as our great country intended.