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Crime And Punishment Essay Plans Notes

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

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Does the literary outlaw tell us anything about social attitudes to crime?
Why was the outlaw a suitable character for entertainment?
Was Robin Hood a role model? (2011) What does the prosecution of homicide tell us about medieval attitudes to personal safety?
Was heresy a figment of the ecclesiastical imagination?
Why was heresy a crime?
Why were 'fame' and honour such important aspects of medieval society?
What does litigation on defamation tell us about society in this period?
Can different aims be discerned in the punishments for different crimes?
(What was punishment meant to achieve?) Did the law treat women and men significantly differently?
To what extent was crime gendered? (2011)

Does the literary outlaw tell us anything about social attitudes to crime?
Introduction: William Langland's Piers Plowman - Sloth 'I can nought perfitly my pater-noster as the prest is syngeth, but I can rymes of Robyn Hood and Randolf erle of Chester' Popularity of outlaw - frequent recital Redistributive 0 wicked man being punished and innocent being rewarded Social celebration of crime yet also 'Robehods' from 1262 Shows defining ideology of 'rough' and popular justice in contrast to royal justice Shows dichotomy between criticism of banditry and celebration of 'rough' Folville's law Common weal: Res publica Yet do not rob rich to give to poor - more undeserving to deserving Gest of Robyn Hode - impoverished knight against acquisitive abbot of St Mary's and the chief justice 'for he was a gode outlawe and dyde pore men moch gode' Tale of Gamelyn - outlaw creates his own jury and takes place of judge to pronounce violent judgement on sheriff brother and judiciaties Implicit social understanding of necessary defence of reputation and extension to issues such as inheritance Moral relativism in this celebration of crime Acquisition: Acceptance of crime in less 'moral' situations Ballads show existence of receivers Robert Redynge and robbers retreated to home of Alice Robyn of Buckeby in return for part of clothing In most literature, however, stealing for personal gain from a victim rather than an oppressor was seen to be wrong - not the same as reality Can still distinguish between royal justice and popular legitimised 'crime' e.g. poaching Grievances: Can be said to represent their resolution through violent crime Peasants Revolt 1381 and Cade's Revolt 1450 - right to protest Yet do not know reception of ballads - may be popular for their excitement yet not encompassing social norms Holt - frame of reference of riot and resistance to lawful officials by armed gangs Yet ideas of rough justice ? literary outlaws and crime may be only way to restore justice in the place of corrupt officialdom Corruption: Holt - reflect attitudes of socially oppressed Extremely litigious society ? corrupt justices led to idea of restorative crime Robin Hood ballads and Tale of Gamelyn Folville banditry of early 14th century Langland's Piers Plowman - Grace helped men 'and some to rife and recover what was wrongfully taken. He showed them how to regain it through the might of their hands and wrest it from false men by Folville's laws' Henry of Knighton - approved of Folvilles' murder of Roger Bellers in 1326 and described Richard Folville not as a criminal but as a fierce, daring and impudent man

An Outlaw's Song of Trailbaston - criticises indictment of innocents by corrupt officials - 'have indicted me out of their false mouths for wicked robberies and other misdeeds, so that I do not dare to be received among my friends' Forest - 'there is no deceit there, nor any bad law', come to the forest 'for the common law is too uncertain' Violent retributive and restorative crime - 'I would teach them the game of Trailbaston and would break their backs and rumps, their arms and their legs: it would be right; I would also cut out their tongues and their mouths' Teleological legitimisation of crime Robin Hood Archetypal literary outlaw Audience - many people with differing perceptions dependent on social group Nobility - defence of reputation and honour ? Folvilles and Coterels Peasants - fantasy figure doing what they could never do Major element is undeserving local sheriff or clergyman and deserving victim Gest - 'for he was a gode outlawe and dyde pore men moch gode' 'These bishoppes and these archebishoppes, ye shall them bete and binde; the hye Sheriff of Notyngham, hym holde you in your mynde' Fear of outlawry: Seem to suggest social acceptance of crime Gest - fear of band entering Nottingham liveried in Lincoln green Little evidence of help for the socially oppressed Exclusion of outlaws from society - distaste for crime ? law and order Outlaw of Trailbaston - 'dare not be received by his friends' 1439 parliamentary petition - Piers Venables of Derbyshire and his band 'beyng of his clothinge and in manere of insurrection wente into the wodes in that county like it hadde be Ronyne Hode and his meyne' Limitations: Popular audience made them less realistic e.g. last century - magic and Eustace the Monk Provide outline of crime but less on social attitudes to it Traditional 'outlaw crimes' - not much on petty crimes Debate over contemporary audience - upper class legitimate crime yet peasant attitude of crime against corruption and oppression Outlaw does not fully replicate contemporary outlaw - neighbourly feuds, service in pay of ecclesiastics and officeholders, employment of criminals and extortion e.g. Roger le Sauvage in Coterel gang If literary outlaw does not fully describe actual outlaw then it is unlikely it will fully represent social attitudes to crime Conclusion: Celebration of criminality by diverse cultures to express resistance to corruption Outlaw shows popular awareness that crime was not an absolute moral wrong Could be used to achieve justice against corruption Romance and fantasy, however, highlights general eschewal of crime More about structure of society than crime Targeting of corrupt individuals rather than established order - interconnectivity of royal and 'rough' justice - rare, hence popularity in outlaw literature

Why was the outlaw a suitable character for entertainment? (Specimen) Introduction: Stories of outlaws, both real and imagined, formed the basis for much medieval entertainment. Details of their heroic exploits and resistance to authority give details as to the fantasies of the listeners. Dependent upon the audience, the outlaw had different entertaining qualities yet overall, his freedom to do that which others could not was the main reason for his appeal. Within this, there was a reappraisal of society from outside, in the greenwood, meaning that these stories had a greatly differing setting from the majority of ballads and appealed to a wide audience across class divides. The popularity of outlaw ballads is seen in Langland's Piers Plowman where Sloth says that although he cannot recite the paternoster, he does know ballads of Robin Hood. The outlaw was entertaining precisely because he was an outlaw; outside society and outside people's normal experiences. Greenwood: Outside norms of society Could breach forest laws which were resented by most people Lack of constraints e.g. women and family are not present in ballads An Outlaw's Song of Trailbaston - come to the greenwood 'for the common law is too uncertain' 'I will keep myself within the woods, in the beautiful shade; there is no deceit there, nor any bad law' Only refuge for innocent victim was to flee to the forest - criticism of justice Infringement of forest laws was done by all strata of society Gamelyn flees to the greenwood and becomes king of the outlaws Eustace the Monk also gathers followers around him in the forest Masculinity: For gentry and nobility for whom many of the early ballads would have been written for Similar to chivalry - more pertaining to gentry Folville and Coterel gangs were also admired to an extent Eustace de Folville, Leicester bandit under Edward III and Lionel, 'king of the rout of raveners' had a place in popular esteem - champions of justice outside the legal framework Folvilles shown as heroes in Langland's Piers Plowman - 'wrest it from false men by Folville's law' Henry of Knighton - approved murder of Roger Bellers by Folvilles and saw kidnapping of Sir Richard Willoughby as bold men taking reasonable revenge - Richard Folville described as a fierce, daring and impudent man Fighting for justice against corruption yet still loyal to the king e.g. Gest - meets them in forest and they dine with him, wears Lincoln green Robbery and theft, traditionally a defamatory insult, was reappraised to encapsulate masculine acts Loyalty of Little John as a masculine ideal in Robin Hood and the Monk Against oppression: For peasants, could express emotions without resorting to violence Very popular amongst the mass of the population - new ideas The Gest - should not hurt husbandmen or yeomen but corrupt bishops, archbishops and sheriffs Robin Hood and the Monk - Robin's devoutness is compared to the monk's irreligious treachery when he betrays Robin to the sheriff Robin Hood and the Sheriff Robin Hood and the Bishop - target of wealth, power and worldliness The Tale of Gamelyn Ideas of 'rough justice' - outlaws keep law and order in this ideal world

Triumph of justice of those who are outside the law - righting of wrong and downfall of those who control the law by bribery and abuse of office Fantasy that he could attack officials and be rewarded by the king Peasant Revolt: Many have cited idea of robbing from rich and giving to poor - not present in this period but its later development shows the potential of outlaw entertainment as a fantasised picture - yet may be said to rob the undeserving to give to the undeserving of whatever social rank e.g. Gest - help impoverished knight against acquisitive abbot of St Mary's New political ideology of the common weal or res publica contained within them?
Gest - 'For he was a good outlawe and dyde pore men moch god' Can also be argued that they expressed economic and social grievances - unrealistic as ire was directed against individuals rather than social structure as a whole Nevertheless, the ballads would have been spoken and adaptations may have been made in the light of revolts such as that of 1381 - entertainment through fantasy of the future Overall no firm outlook on class - individuals Yet many have argued that using Robin Hood to embody peasant discontent is anachronistic Entertainment as opposed to reality: Much entertainment uses characters who would be disliked in real life 'Robehod' applied from 1262 to an outlaw Acceptable for entertainment but not in reality - fantasy Outlaw was traditionally represented by men such as Bracton as the wolf on the outside of society - this fear may have contributed to a reappraisal through fantasy Holt - were popular as they had a roughly enforced idea of justice and morality, code of honesty, good fight and adventurous chase, the joke of trickery by disguise and the king incognito Real bandits found it easier to steal from the poor and were outside the law - often attacked and hurt people in their own homes Mid 15th century Norfolk was terrorised by criminal bands Difference from reality - service in pay of ecclesiastics, officeholders in league with them for profit, employment of one criminal to catch another and sophisticated methods of extortion .e.g. Roger le Sauvage In reality, a Robin Hood was not popular - Tutbury petitioned Parliament against Piers Venables in 1439 'like it hadde be Robyn Hode and his meyne' Growing complaints of lack of governance Conclusion: Despite evidence for the reality of some outlaws, the presence of outlaws in entertainment shows the creation of a fantasy rather than an acceptance and wish for reality Were suitable for entertainment precisely because in reality they were unacceptable Much to do with hostility to clergy - in the light of growing anticlericalism and devotio moderna Suitable for all as there is no firm outlook on class; Robin Hood is a 'frebore yeoman' - many can identify with this Mixed audience - not class literature Many enjoyed listening to them and although not representative of fighting against oppression; were an enjoyable fantasy The very disjuncture between literary outlaws and actual bandits shows entertainment differed In this extremely violent society and at a time of war, violence could be celebrated Individuals involved, not class - popular for exciting themes

Was Robin Hood a role model?
Introduction: Robin Hood ballads were a popular source of entertainment in the medieval period yet it can debated as to whether they can provide further details of society at this time. Robin Hood ballads would have been heard by all strata of society yet they were also appealing to all of them. In contrast to real outlaws such as the Folvilles and Coterels and the general eschewal of crime by society, it can be argued that Robin Hood was a role model. Although the life of an outlaw was never truly espoused, ideas of usurping oppression and fulfilling masculine norms can be found within the figure of Robin Hood leading some to postulate that he was an exemplary figure. Social Oppression: The Gest - should not hurt husbandmen or yeomen but corrupt bishops, archbishops and sheriffs Robin Hood and the Monk - Robin's devoutness is compared to the monk's irreligious treachery when he betrays Robin to the sheriff Robin Hood and the Sheriff Robin Hood and the Bishop - target of wealth, power and worldliness The Tale of Gamelyn Ideas of 'rough justice' - outlaws keep law and order in this ideal world Triumph of justice of those who are outside the law - righting of wrong and downfall of those who control the law by bribery and abuse of office Fantasy that he could attack officials and be rewarded by the king Outside norms of society Could breach forest laws which were resented by most people An Outlaw's Song of Trailbaston - come to the greenwood 'for the common law is too uncertain' 'I will keep myself within the woods, in the beautiful shade; there is no deceit there, nor any bad law' Only refuge for innocent victim was to flee to the forest - criticism of justice Infringement of forest laws was done by all strata of society Gamelyn flees to the greenwood and becomes king of the outlaws Eustace the Monk also gathers followers around him in the forest Equitable Justice and Poor: Ideas of an eye for an eye Bishop only allowed the money he said he had Gamelyn - ideas of 'rough justice' in a parody of proceedings ? leads to execution of sheriff Taking from the undeserving to give to the deserving e.g. the impoverished knight is given money stolen from the sheriff in the Gest Can be applied to real life as a role model e.g. ideas in Bracton of castration for taking of virginity Care for the poor is not so much expressed except in later ballads Nevertheless, ideas of deserving - not enemies of cottagers and husbandmen but corrupt sheriffs and bishops Important in terms of alms and charity Capitibus velatis 'masked' or 'hooded' men in Kent took grain and gave to poor - idea of justified crime Loyalty and Masculinity: Loyal to each other Free in greenwood - wives, children etc. as well as the law Could be violent For gentry and nobility for whom many of the early ballads would have been written for Similar to chivalry - more pertaining to gentry

Folville and Coterel gangs were also admired to an extent Eustace de Folville, Leicester bandit under Edward III and Lionel, 'king of the rout of raveners' had a place in popular esteem - champions of justice outside the legal framework Folvilles shown as heroes in Langland's Piers Plowman - 'wrest it from false men by Folville's law' Henry of Knighton - approved murder of Roger Bellers by Folvilles and saw kidnapping of Sir Richard Willoughby as bold men taking reasonable revenge - Richard Folville described as a fierce, daring and impudent man Fighting for justice against corruption yet still loyal to the king e.g. Gest - meets them in forest and they dine with him, wears Lincoln green Robbery and theft, traditionally a defamatory insult, was reappraised to encapsulate masculine acts Loyalty of Little John as a masculine ideal in Robin Hood and the Monk Fantasy and Criminal: People generally eschew violence - only espoused in fantasy Could be used as entertainment but not as a role model Not Christian Idea of loyalty to the king - ironic as they often act against the king's peace 'Robehod' applied from 1262 to an outlaw Acceptable for entertainment but not in reality - fantasy Outlaw was traditionally represented by men such as Bracton as the wolf on the outside of society Real bandits found it easier to steal from the poor and were outside the law - often attacked and hurt people in their own homes Mid 15th century Norfolk was terrorised by criminal bands Difference from reality - service in pay of ecclesiastics, officeholders in league with them for profit, employment of one criminal to catch another and sophisticated methods of extortion .e.g. Roger le Sauvage In reality, a Robin Hood was not popular - Tutbury petitioned Parliament against Piers Venables in 1439 'like it hadde be Robyn Hode and his meyne' Growing complaints of lack of governance Gender: Lack of women or rules Where do they live day to day?
Only really violent escapades and exciting fighting Not a role model for real life - entertainment Conclusion: Idealised fantasy - did not act like this Not a role model - immense punishment to be outlawed Would be recognition that this was not a good life Only role model parts are those which are already present in society e.g. loyalty Audience of the ballads - not a role model at all Entertainment Only part which is role model is idea of 'rough justice' - could correspond to audience of the moral community and legitimise righting of wrongs No matter who the audience were, Robin Hood was not a role model in terms of livelihood but he did show some important masculine qualities

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