At first sight, the 18th century can appear to students as one of the harshest, most bloody periods of British judicial history, especially once they are shown the well-trodden ground of the list of crimes punishable by death by the end of the century.
Even the name assigned to laws of this period – The Bloody Code – evokes a sense of foreboding, but there are questions to be answered. What was the Bloody Code? What attitudes and factors led to the Bloody Code? Did it work? Compared to other periods, how ‘bloody’ was it?
In this lesson, students will answer those questions and gain a real insight into the attitudes that led to one of the dubbed ‘bloodiest’ periods of Britain’s judicial history by using primary source material and real courtroom judgements. They will understand which factors influenced it, compare levels of change and continuity over time and be able to access and examine primary source and archive material.
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