In the eighteenth century, English capital punishment was substantially different than it is today. The courts' punishments were ferocious: over 200 crimes were punishable by death during a century that claimed to be ruled by the Age of Reason and Enlightenment; the death penalty included methods of execution such as public hanging, burning at the stake, and drawing and quartering. The courts' punishments were inconsistent: a poor felon was more likely to be capitally punished than a member of the aristocracy. In addition, pardons masked the ferocious nature of capital punishment, and provided an aura of mystery and righteousness to the law.

Law, and especially the law in England, is forged through an evolutionary process. So, while the examples of the criminals on the tour illustrate the ferocity and inconsistency of the Bloody Code, it is important to remember that the 18th century was merely a link within the evolutionary chain that influences the American an English law of today.

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