Government and Administration

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  • Government and Administration
    • The Sheriffs
      • Kept the King's peace - responsible for arrest, detention and prosecution of criminals.
      • Appointed annually from among the local landowners in each county and was the closest thing Tudor England had to a police officer.
      • Organised and supervised elections to parliament and MPs could take their seats - if had sheriff's writ to confirm election.
      • Played important role in local justice and administration
        • Gradually been replaced by the JPs as the chief government officers
      • Had military role - responsible for supervising muster of militia - local men who were drafted to serve a period in service of crown.
    • What problems did the king face in local government?
      • Disputes between members of nobility
      • War of Roses - system of local governments collapsed
        • Edward IV attempted to rebuild structure. Tried to do in two ways: travelled across country intervening in disputes and hearing cases in common law courts; appointed powerful local magnates to control particular areas.
          • Successful - gave responsibility to nobles (controlled vast areas of land - enormous power and influence
          • Weaknesses - concentration of power (led to cration of  over-mighty subjects; caused discnent among who were overlooked.
            • Nobles seized opportunity to take authority and ignore royal commands.
    • Control of Magnates
    • Justices of the Peace (JPs)
      • Extending their powers
        • After 1485 - continued to be selected from those with significant amounts of land
        • Followed example of Edward IV - widens scope of JP's responsibilities
          • 1487 - given power to grant bail to those awaiting trail.
          • 1461 - Edward IV transferred power to try criminal offences within the country from sheriff to them.
          • 1485 - act of parliament gave them power to arrest and question poachers or hunters (in disguise) - cover for murder or rebellion.
        • Chose to rely on second rank of each county's landowners
          • Weakens power of greater magnates - led to corruption of justice at the local level.
        • 1495 -
          • Given power to replace suspect members of juries, act in cases of non-capital offences without jury, reward informers.
          • Henry relied on their own self-interest - leaders of society for upholding law and order
            • Only control over them - threat of removal from commission (acted improperly) - regarded as a considerable social disgrace.
          • Dealt with problem of corrupt or intimidated juries - often used by men of influence (way of escaping punishment)
      • Limitations of their powers
        • Had to apply considerable pressure to fill positions - petty crimes went unpunished.
        • By law every hundred had to provide itself with High Constable and every parish Petty Constable
          • Responsibility - unpopular and no significant fee for job
        • Limited powers - Henry dependant on them for maintenance of law and order
          • Dependant on lesser officials in countryside to bring offenders to them.
        • Court of King's Bench - override decisions made at Quarter Session
          • After 1485 - JPs commanded to read out proclamation at beginning of each session - empathising grievances against Justices could be taken to either an Assize Judge or the king
        • Weakness of type of local government - king dependant on goodwill of his officials, system of paid servants would be more efficient.
          • Worked effectively
      • Appointed annually from among local landowners - average number commission (for county) - 18
        • Local bishop would head the list of those appointed - lay landowners following in strict order of social precedence.
          • Largest landowners sometimes chosen to be JPs - it was knights and esquires who carried out majority of JPs duties on daily basis.
      • Responsible for: defence of public order; implementing various statutes of social and economic nature (those concerned with regulation of wages and guilds); dispensing justices to criminals (brought before them by sheriffs) - 4 times a year required to meet - try those accused of most serious crimes (except treason - left to council)
      • Had authority to pass judgement on all other crimes - difficult  cases passes to the Assize Courts
        • Assizes - sessions held twice a year in each county in England by professional judges under special commission from crown.
      • Position did not  carry any sort of payment - to offer rewards seemed inappropriate
        • Thought to be natural part of landowning classes'  responsibility to ensure effective system of law enforcement.


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