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

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Outlawry Sources:
? Must look at context of use and audience Ideas of the ballads:
? Personal relationships, feud, justice and the deserving and undeserving
~ Medieval values
~ Crime may not be the main issue - vehicle to tell the story
? Problems of the justice system - criticism of royal justice?
~ Corruption, guilt nad innocence
~ King's justice v. king's person - issues of power
? Foulk Fitz Warin - contrast with the past?
~ 12th century figure - 14th century ballads
? Outlaws fighting against the system
~ Robin Hood may be seen to be good
~ The audience knows something that the characters do not Freedom:
? Unfree - serf, villain -> could only litigate in the lord's manor court
~ Very important
? Before period - were either free or unfree
? Development - free or unfree dependent upon the type of land you held
? Free - common law court?

Many personal links with responsibility and duty
~ Service and lordship
~ Patronage and clientage
~ Outlaws are outside this
~ No service or reciprocity They do as they want to do, not as they have to do
~ Also lack of constraints of family life

The Forest:
? Resentment of forest law
~ Includes a lot of agricultural land
~ Not an escape from the law - better to be under the king's jurisdiction?
? Forest - refuge / royal justice / dangerous wilderness / wolves
~ Contradictory cultural associationsAll records tell a story
~ May not accurately represent the event

HomicideIdeas of self-defence, prevention of crime through punishment and negligenceDeath by misadventure
~ Cannot control the situation Much counted as accidental - idea of malicious intent Theft was always intentional - stealth and premeditation
~ Much higher prosecution and execution rates Records of facts can also show attitudes e.g. intention?Justified homicide:
? Homicide was allowed against outlaws and in cases of self-defence ? king's pardon
? Sometimes juries invent cases of self-defence in situations of burglary and theft
? Hamsocken - housebreaking and invasion of space
~ Malicious intent
~ Common agreement that it is acceptable to defend your property with violenceMarxist idea that state is more interested in property than personal safety?

Community safety Ideas of kinship - jury allowed kin to protect each other

? Have to analyse sources for the truth in them
~ e.g. 'dying in wife's arms' is symbolic - used to show murder
? Formulaic records
~ Hurnard - due to court or do the appellants express their stories in this language?
? Juror made distinction between truth and rhetoric
~ Yet jury still accept the story Witnesses:
? Wife can only appeal if her husband 'died in her arms'
~ Importance of being an eyewitness
~ Ideal eyewitness is a male adult
~ Worst witnesses were female, low status, stranger or children
? Some used an elaborate description to show their knowledge of the situation
? Compurgation or oath-helping
~ Others attest to your innocence or good character
~ Becoming an antiquated procedure
? Jury of matrons only used for male impotence, virginity or pregnancy
~ Women are not usually reliable in criminal law Violence:
? Carried weapon ? more likely violence

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