The Elizabethan court is definitely not a place you would want to be if you were being accused of a crime. This was especially the case if you were being accused of a harsh crime such as treason. Unlike today where we have numerous rules and regulations which state we are unable to torture people, this was not the case during the Elizabethan period.
They would frequently use methods such as racking to get confessions out of people. Racking was a process by which you were tied to a tool that would literally stretch you. It would frequently dislocate joints and break bones.
Life in Elizabethan Courts
If it was done for too long, it could have even ripped limbs apart from the body. Generally though, people who were racked would no longer be able to walk because of the injuries they sustained.
Another difference between the courts during the Elizabethan times and today was the laws that were in place during this time. Generally, almost all of the laws were related to religion. Obviously, there were the common ones such as killing and stealing, but the Elizabethan society took it to a new level.
There was no barrier between religion and law during the Elizabethan period. Something that I also find quite interesting about the this era was that people in prison were required to pay for their own food and lodging. The poor were often given an allowance but they were required to give money for what they ate and during their stay in the prison.
This is much different in comparison to what we do now where the tax payers hold the primary burden of keeping the prison system alive. A common similarity within the courts during Elizabethan era was there was no shyness about litigation during the Elizabethan times. Much like today, the simplest mistakes or problems would be settled in a court room. A lot of the literature from this era talks about people handling problems through litigation much like they still do today.