Crime And Punishment In The Seventeenth Century

2857 words - 12 pages

Source A is a mid seventeenth-century engraving showing the 'swimming
test' of a woman accused of witchcraft. The swimming test was used to
find witches. The accused would be submerged in water, and if they
floated on the surface they were assumed guilty of witchcraft.

Source A illustrates uniformed spectators. The very fact that they are
uniformed shows that the swimming test was a sanctioned event. The
source also shows a creature which looks a little like a warthog,
which may represent the witch's familiar.

From this source it can be seen that in the mid seventeenth century
the swimming test was highly regarded. Observing the spectators, their
...view middle of the document...

Source B was written in 1987 and so can be seen as a little
unreliable, however it still gives an insight into how views upon the
swimming test had changed over a hundred years.

(b) (i)

Smugglers illegally brought foreign goods into the country by not
declaring them to the government officials of the coastline. The basic
purpose of smuggling was to provide the people with goods at
affordable prices. Smugglers released goods on to the black market,
where they were cheaper as the government taxes on the goods were not
paid for. The goods that were smuggled included tea, spices, alcohol
and coffee.

Many people viewed the smugglers as harmless adventurers with a taste
for excitement and danger, to others they were seen as people trying
to keep the prices of goods down.

Government Ministers however had a contrasting view of the smugglers
to the general public. They argued that the smugglers were inflicting
serious damage to the country's economy.

Taxation in this period was based on the payment of duties on goods,
rather than on income. Smuggling therefore threatened to deprive the
government of the money, which was required to carry out its normal

In source C an eighteenth century writer blames the laws for
encouraging smuggling. ' The law has made into a crime something which
should never have been.' People at the time of the eighteenth century
were extremely religious, thus many of them followed the Ten
Commandments. When compared to the Ten Commandments it can clearly be
seen that smuggling was not a natural crime.

Smuggling was a victimless crime as smugglers just tried to make the
goods affordable to people. Smugglers also gave people access to goods
that they would not have otherwise been able to afford. By looking at
source C smuggling can also be interpreted in this manner.

The facts that Tax was on duties and not on income, made many people
feel hard done by. This is why the writer of source C blames the
taxation law for making smuggling into a crime when it 'should never
have been.' The very fact that the writer blames the government shows
that they also saw smuggling as a victimless crime and felt hard done
by the government and its tax policy.


Smuggling had reached its peak during the eighteenth century. This was
mainly due to the government and its policies. Smugglers illegally
brought foreign foods into the country. The basic purpose of smuggling
was to provide people with affordable goods.

The general public viewed the smugglers as harmless adventurers with a
taste for excitement and danger. The government however saw them as a
threat to the country's economy. This is because smuggling threatened
to deprive the government of money to carry out its tasks.

There was a range of punishments for smuggling and this...

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