Role of the church in changing crime and punishment

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  • Role of the Church in changing crime and punishment
    • 1) Church courts and the king
      • William I had encouraged the church to set up courts to deal with 'moral crimes'.
      • worked on the principle that punishments should offer criminals an opportunity to reform and save their souls.
      • Punishments motivated by retribution alone were wrong
      • maiming > execution
      • in the late 12th century, Henry II tried to limit the power of the church because it challenged his authorities.
    • Ending of trial by ordeal in the early 13th Century
      • trial by hot iron, hot water, cold water.
      • important role it played in determining the guilt or innocence of ordinary people.
      • 1215 --> priests should stop helping to organise trials by ordeal.
      • system quickly came to an end.
      • Trial by jury --> jury observed the trial and decided whether they were guilty or not guilty.
    • Benefit of clergy
      • power struggle over how far the king's authority could be imposed on members of the clergy who tried for a crime.
      • Senior church officials successfully argued that members of the clergy should only be tried in Church courts.
      • Church courts were more lenient
      • enforced pilgrimage, confession and apology at mass
      • open to abuse
      • Psalm 51 - 'save your neck'
    • Offering sanctuary
      • sanctuary = safe, hiding place
      • offered to people accused of crimes
      • not offered in all churches
      • ask for help from a clergy
      • accused person was given the chance to swear an oath agreeing to leave the country within 40 days - instead of going to court.


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