There were many reasons to die for and many to be killed for in the past. Our technological world should be able to change everything for the greater good. something indeed has changed yet there is lots of work to do. Today you won’t be prisoned for gambling as you have a mobile phone in your pocket that connects you to the world’s information. So you can gamble in any place at any time by joining the National Casino.
When viewed today, first of all, the prevalence of executions for economic crimes in different cultures and eras is surprising and shocking. What is there? “Economic crimes” is too strong a word. We are talking about theft, including petty theft. How little our ancestors valued human life if they could take it away for theft?!
The Babylonian laws of Hammurabi separately stipulate many options for stealing other people’s property, which is punishable by execution: theft during a fire, kidnapping a slave or dependent person, helping him escape from the owner, just robbery.
The Hittites sentenced a man who captured a foreign field to a terrible execution: “If someone sows the seed for seed, then his neck should be put under the plow. Two teams of bulls should be harnessed and one team should be directed facing in one direction, and the other team facing in the other direction. The man must die, and then the bulls must die. And the one who first sowed the field must reap the harvest.”
The Romans, who passed on to their descendants their admiration for the right to property and the subtleties of civil law, severely punished the burning of a house or a harvested crop. Like the Hittites, they were executed for an attempt on someone else’s crop at night. The debtor was taken to the square several times, apparently in the hope that someone would pay the debt for him. If this did not happen and there were no people willing to redeem the unfortunate person, then he was sold into slavery or cut into pieces.
Execution for theft, even petty, was the norm in most countries and in the Middle Ages. When your main judge is the church you can be killed for anything. If you are science, please proceed to the inquisitor. If your opinion about the gods is different, the next door to another one. So on and so on.
Many wars happened only because of the belief that Christianity lost the belief and must pay with their lives.
We know that in the 17th and 18th centuries, judges often deliberately underestimated the size of the stolen goods so that it turned out to be lower than that for which the death penalty was due. But still, centuries passed, and the “economic executions” continued.
Moreover, it would seem that the closer to our time, the fewer such punishments should have become, but in the quite enlightened 18th and 19th centuries in England, it was possible to get on the gallows for stealing things worth a few pence.
Despite the fact that in the 19th-century voices against the death penalty grew louder, and it was often replaced by hard labor, the overall picture changed very slowly. In 1800, 19-year-old maid Sarah Lloyd was hanged after robbing her mistress. In 1825, 15-year-old John Smith was on the gallows, having robbed someone else’s house. And for arson and robbery, they were sent to the gallows without hesitation at all.
Only in 1808 in England was the death penalty for pickpockets abolished, and in 1830 for theft in general. Judging by the absence of any complaints, there was no particular increase in theft after that.