Medieval England d CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

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  • Medieval England C1000-C1500
    • Crimes
      • Main Crimes were: Theft, Arson (setting things on fire) and murder.
      • Other crimes:
        • ****: Non consensual sex, an assult
        • Receiving stolen goods from someone
        • Treason: Going against the king
        • Counterfeiting= Fraud.
        • Forest Laws were introduced by William. You could no longer hunt in the forests converting   30% of England into Royal forest meaning only the monarchy could hunt there.
          • Locals could no longer hunt, collect firewood, plant trees or kill deer, the punishment for breaking these laws led to fines or even execution.
    • Punishment
      • After 1066
        • Willian used Fines for lesser crimes. Normans then ended Wergild and ordered fines must be payed to him instead of the victims family.
        • Capital Punishment was used on serious offenders and repeated offenders
          • Punishment for serious crime became more brutal due to rebellions normans faced. Executions were frequent.
            • In 1069 a rebellion was led my Edgar the atheling who had a bloodline to the throne. Once William defeated him all villages in the north-east of England were ordered to be destroyed.
        • Trial by ordeal
          • Trial by ordeal was an ancient practice that decided whether the accused was guilty or innocent.
          • Trial by fire: walk over hot ploughshares or holding a hot iron. The speed in which the wound healed decided if they were guilty or innocent.
            • Often used on women
          • Trial by water: The accused would be thrown into a pool of water and if they drowned they were innocent but if the floated they were guilty and has been rejected by the water. Either way they were conveniently dead.
            • Often used on men
          • The accused would have to fast 3 days before trials
          • Trial by consecrated bread: was used on priests as a bias method as choking on bread was an unlikely occurrence.
          • 1215 trial by ordeal was abolished.
      • Death penalty aka capitail punishment was used for the most serious crimes, treason and heresy
      • Blood feuds meant that the victim could punish the accused as they saw fit.
    • Law enforcment
      • Anglo saxon
        • There was not a police force so local communities regulated themselves, the victim would have to pursue justice.
          • -hue and cry victim would shout and call out for justice. Fellow villagers would help chase and hunt down the offender.
          • -tithings based on communal respect. At  12 you took an oath to denounce all major crime.
            • Groups of ten, if one broke the law the group would have to bring them to court. If they failed they would face a group fine
            • This was not the most successful as the groups were often bias and would let petty crimes slip.
          • New Hierarchy of courts.  Serious= Royal and shire courts      Minor= Local courts
            • Hundred courts met monthly, they had a judge and 5 local jury members. If they couldnt decide they would use trial by ordeal.
          • Wergild: fines linking to victims position in society, murdering peasant= small fine, murdering noble, big fine ect.
          • Prisons were uncommon and were used as holding cells for trials
      • Norman 1066-1154
        • William the conquer was crowned kind on Christmas 1066, he wanted to keep continuity between himself and Edward the confessor to retain anglo-saxon methods
        • Churches could provide sanctuary for the accused for 40 days, they had to follow certain rituals
        • Trial by combat: fighting to the death.
      • 1215 there were constables and watchers
    • Church
      • As the church increased power trial by ordeal was abolished in 1215.
      • Church established a less harsh court system, using no execution, trials were heard by priests without a jury present.
      • Different court systems:
        • Royal judges: vistit county twice a year for serious crimes
        • secular courts: dealt with non-religious crimes
        • church courts: dealt with moral crimes
      • Benefit of the clergy= chance to redeem sins, only church workers
        • Psalm 51 only illiterate people could read it however illiterate criminals would just recite it
      • offering sanctuary: chance to escape the country

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