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History Notes > Crime and Punishment in England c.1280-c.1450 Notes

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Outlawry??????????????Main texts - Robin Hood and the Monk (longest - 2,700 words), Robin Hood and the Potter and Robin Hood and the Sheriff Against corruption - can be seen as reflecting grievances of socially oppressed (Keen) Freedom and idealised world of the greenwood Equitable - robs the rich to give the poor -> only developed in later ballads - much more hint of him as a simple robber taking from rich and poor alike - ordinary people were easier targets Debates over audience - mixed, not class literature Who was Robin Hood? - first mentioned in 1377 Class identity - Robin Hood was seen to be a yeoman or freeman Loyal to the king - fount of justice against corruption - were sometimes rewarded by him Debate over whether they reflect economic and social grievances - French background with Eustace the Monk and Fulk fitz Warin Who wrote them and for whom?
Less oppressive landowners - more against the clergy (as corporative landowners) and corrupt justice - retributive Righting of wrong and downfall of those who abuse position - fantasy of freedom to do this Not against system but individuals - similar to peasant outlook Personal character rather than social class - peasant idea?
Can assume frequent recitals - Sloth Disguise - especially as a potter Outlawry was becoming less serious by 13th century - sanction to compel court attendance -> could no longer lawfully kill Criticism of Trailbastons - innocent victim Infringement of forest laws done by all strata of society - notion in revolt that wild animals do not belong to anyone Eustace de Folville and Lionel, 'king of the rout of raveners' had place in popular esteem - 'rough justice' - not royal support though Murder of Sir Roger Bellers by Folville and Coterel gangs 1326- Folvilles shown as heroes in Piers Plowman Chronicler Henry of Knighton approved of the murder and kidnapping of Sir Richard Willoughby as bold men taking revenge Justified crime to help the poor e.g Kent - capitus velatis - 'masked' or 'hooded' - sold stolen grain for benefit of many and may even have given it to the poor - ideas of common weal or res publica Ballads do not reflect aims of 1381 revolt - 1381 wanted end to outlawry Similar to bandits - complaints of 'lack of governance' - yet also assumption of guilt for innocent Until 1521, negative literary image of outlaw and Robin Hood in particular Usually only 23% convicted - 31% of robbers and burglars True in terms of organisation of criminal bands - often served local magnate or religious house Ideas of regional resistance against a centralising state - expression of ideological discontent rather than manifest

1262 onwards - 'Robehod' applies to an outlaw 'Robin's men' Guy Fawkes and associates were called RHs 1381 Peasants' Revolt - wanted abolition of villeinage, right to rent land at 4d per acre and free negotiation of labour services - did not accept stratified society of robin Hood

Increased use of English 1322 decree by Oxford to only speak French or Latin Bracton - bear the wolf's head - pollution An Outlaw's Song of Trailbaston c. 1305: The woods - 'no deceit there, nor any bad law' Come to forest 'for the common law is too uncertain' 'I will make their heads fly off'

Lionel refers to the Greenwood as his location in a threatening letter to Richard de Snowshill

Robert Redynge with 4 men on series of robberies
- sheltered in home of Alice Robyn of Buckeby and gave her some clothing from robbery 1439 Parliamentary petition - Piers Venables of Derbyshire gathered a large band as a fugitive - 'like it hadde be Robyn Hode and his meyne'

May be Hobbehod - fugitive in 1228 Pipe Roll The Gest of Robyn Hode: Epic poem Should not hurt husbandmen and yeomen Should target bishops and sheriffs 'For he was a good outlawe and dyde pore men moch god'

Outlawry Gest: Fear of outlaws - when king enters Nottingham in Lincoln green

An Outlaw's Song of Trailbaston - criticises king for inability to protect citizens

Gest: Abbot of St Mary's lies as to how much money he has - only given this back

RH and the Bishop: Target of wealth, power and worldliness of bishops Gest:

1. Robin Hood and a poor knight

2. Little John steals all sheriff's money and silver plate - sheriff pursues him and is captured by RH

3. 3. King, disguised as an abbot, seeks out RH and ends up taking him into his service

Piers Plowman 1377 - Sloth refers to rhymes of Robin Hood The Gest of Robyn Hode: 'of frebore blode...a gode yeman' Could be friends with knights and squires - not oppressive landowners RH and the Monk: Robin's devoutness is contrasted with the monk's irreligious treachery - tells on Robin when he goes to pray King sees Little John as most loyal in England 'has begyled us alle' RH and the Golden Prize: Disguised as a monk and begs for money - prays and finds they each have 500 pounds, leaves them with 50 each The Tale of Gamelyn: Flees to greenwood and becomes king of outlaws 'Rough justice' and mockery - justice and sheriff are hanged

Homicide??????????????Only penalty was death -> royal involvement and the eyre Violence was endemic - statement of intent not with primary intention of injuring - greater prevalence than in the 16th and 17th Generally the tool of the relatively poor but not the unfree - unlike European blood feud Juries were unwilling to send people to gallows - mitigating circumstances and redefinition of crime - may not have provided much of a deterrent 1390 - some distinctions between murder and simple homicide - statute associated murder with ambush and malice aforethought Community resisted extension of capital punishment - had been wergeld for other homicides Could not distinguish between murder and manslaughter - later try to through intention - whether it was 'felonious' or not Leniency towards violence - society did not want to interfere Could come to an agreement outside of court with family of deceased Appeals may have been lodged maliciously - threat of king's trial as extortion -> jurors could inform justices that accuser had appealed people pro denariis habendis Petty treason for wife to kill husband Issue if pardons -> decreased deterrent - yet expensive and may not receive mercy Harsh treatment of accidental slaying -> outlawry Did not have to pay reparations if you killed in self-defence Much killing 'by misadventure' No right of appeal - sentence carried out almost straight away Self-defence must be proportionate and straight away - otherwise it is revenge - idea of making them run into weapons Self-defence and accidents still required a pardon - easier to convince of accident than self-defence Mid 14th century - killing housebreaker might lead to acquittal Could kill an adulterer - made out to be self-defence Kinship - might be justified if wife and lover were caught in flagrante More details added by jury - also influenced by knowledge e.g. had been 'friends' Towns might be safer than the country Died often due to carrying of weapons - homicide was inevitable corollary of violence Underreporting of suicides Infanticide not in scope of murder until 1623 Individual human lives seem to have little value e.g. 1350-69 Northamptonshire - only 36% brought to court, break-in and killing of 2 little sisters appears to have gone unpunished Greater importance of durable property?
Many petty quarrels between men e.g. London Eyre of 1276

1255: Walter de Lacy struck Adam Overstrod with a staff Adam gave Walter a fatal stab Itinerant justices sentenced Adam to be hanged 1212: 'Roger of Stainton was arrested because in throwing a stone he by misadventure killed a girl. And it is testified that this was not by felony. And this was shown to the king and the king moved by pity pardoned him the death' 1255 self-defence: Bracton - further question of whether the slayer would not have escaped death

Northamptonshire 13001420: 1307 cases 575 homicides 716 misadventure 16 suicides

1232 Warwick eyre: 64/100k per annum 1248 Bristol: 4/100k Norfolk coroner's roll 1367: 'William put his hand to his knife in order to draw it and strike Robert. Robert, fearing that William wanted to kill him, in selfdefence struck William on the head with a hatchet'

14th century Oxford: 110/100k Nearly all adult males 1342-48 strangers responsible 1/3 1340s - knives 4/11 victims
1/2 at weekend Most in street after dusk - 80%
Northamptonshire: Sunday - 21%
Evening - 86%
Men - 99%
(London - 93%)

20.2% in company of relative Likelihood of gallows: Indicted = ~5 x Appealed

Conviction: 27% acquitted 7% executed 41% outlawed Some never identified

~30% indicted were executed

Accomplices - 58.8%

Used to solve inheritance issues e.g. Sir John Basynges of Empingham Murder of an heir in 1446

Don't show background e.g. William of Wellington in 1316 struck John Cobbler 'so that his brains flowed forth and he died forthwith' just because he would not sell him a candle

London - 61% on the streets

Homicide Buckinghamshire - John Colles jr. stabbed William Shepherde in defence of father - jury claimed he had been turned on

Victims: Rural - 94% male Oxford - 96.5%
London - 10% female

More homicides than misadventure: 43% in London 26% in Oxford Rural Northamptonshire - homicides were 10% lower

Urban: Tradesmen were 51%
suspects and 60% victims Servants were 25%
suspects and 12% victims London - 8% victims and suspects were clergy

Acted with accomplice: Women - 64%
Men - 25%

14th century - knives 73%

1464 - 4 men broke in and killed John Chaworth at Kirtlington Were outlawed but Margaret and her lover Robert Marshall were not Brandon Leet 1385: Richard Waterman amerced for drawing blood in self-defence Walkern Leet 1337: William le Maners with the assent of Isabel killed Thomas le Gardyner with bow and arrows Isabel fled county

In the home: 1/3 rural
1/4 urban Burglary Those who killed relatives
- ~45% executed Relative scarcity Margaret de Chastel 1312 appeals for death of husband William in Northampton 'lying in wait in anticipation and with premeditation' Description of bridge and sword

1371 Little Coggeshall, Essex: John Dryvere took his wife Agnes to a field and beat her - threw her in a well where she survived for 5 days - later died 'feloniously killed the aforesaid Agnes'

1371 Maldon, Essex: Alice Cherles was killed by Katherine Ronges of Messing who was unsound of mind Details of first finder John Rakyere and 4 nearest men Murder of Nicholas Radford by earl of Devon's men 1455: Local lawyer, JP and recorder of Exeter Bonville's legal adviser Premeditated No more compassion than as if it it 'had been a Jew or a Saracen' Petition to Parliament by cousin Indictment at Exeter 1456 Letter written to John Paston 1455

Murder of Thomas Beeston JP by his wife 1420 1338 Year Book - Spigurnel judges that the 13 year old girl should be burnt for murder of mistress as 'malice makes up for age' London Eyre: 1251 - Cecily and maid Juliana were fighting and both fell into vessel of hot water 1252 - 4 strangers encountered Richard on London Bridge, quarrelled, killed him and fled 1253 - Nicholas de Hallyngber wanted to make hole in plank - knife in thigh 1253 - Ranulph de Brinkele came out to light a candle and struck with a knife by a stranger

Middlesex: Robert Ferthing feloniously slain by servant John and wife Agnes in middle of the night - John to be drawn and hanged, Agnes burnt

1387 Lincolnshire peace session: John Beldge assaulted Mrgaret de Cane so that her life was despaired of and robbed her of a sheet worth 8d London Eyre: 1257 - Emma le Mazon abjured the realm after confessing to murder of husband John 1258 - John la Persone killed William de Clerkenwell and his wife Alice in their home - carried off all their goods - exacted and outlawed 1258 - Lucy and companions beat Felice and accused her of taking away her business

Xenophobia and economic: Janus Imperial of Genoa was killed by John Kirkby - jury claimed it was selfdefence but did not know how Eventually drawn and hanged

1382 Lincolnshire peace session: Collaboration of husband and wife - Richard and Isabel Demyld killed John de Cotum at Hardwick Ramsey, Hepmangrove and Bury: 1276 - Peter Molendinarious fell into a lead cauldron 1285 - 3 year old Cecilia fell into pot of peas 1286 - William killed by wood in cart London Eyre: 1254 - Robert de Kyngeston killed Lambert de Cologne Henry de Merston charged with incitement but cannot answer until Kyngeston had been convicted and he is a clerk anyway 1254 - Cart overturned on Nicholas the Carter Underage appeal: John Dardell appeals for death of his brother Thomas in Kent Do not have to answer appeal as he is only 17 - under required age of 21

1395 Lincolnshire peace session: John Elmesale and Diota Baker murdered at night John's wife Alice Hampshire: Robert Blake and John Ball were servants of Andrew Walton and lay in wait 'in order to slay him and there they slew him feloniously and treasonably' Ball to be drawn and hanged Blake handed to clergy Elizabeth, his wife, charged with consent - to be burnt but matrons affirm that she is pregnant 1391 Lincolnshire: 'Believing that it was permissible in law to behead and slay anyone outlawed of felony, the aforesaid William Pyke...beheaded the aforesaid Simon as a felon' Letters of pardon 1397 11 year old William Palfrey stabbed to death 9 year old William Geyser in Cambridgeshire

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