summary of crime and punishment- medieval england 1000-1500

  • Created by: MARN402
  • Created on: 03-02-18 19:49

Medieval england 1000-1500:Anglo-saxon crimes

  • Many laws were based local customs but anglo saxon kings were issuing codes of law that made certain actions crimes showing the power of the monarch as the king’s authority grew the more importance in him making laws.

  • Laws were becoming more unified across the country. E.g. william 1 added new laws that created new crimes.after henry 2nd came king in 1154 laws were written down, for the first time there was a uniform legal system across the country.

Crimes against the person

Crimes against the property

Crimes against authority



Public disorder


(varying from fairly serious e.g. assault to serious-****, murder)


Theft such as stealing crops or poaching

Counterfeiting coins (varying from serious e.g. arson to not serious petty theft)



(These 2 crimes Seen as very serious)



Hunting wild animals on other peoples land without paying hunting rights (form of theft). seen as a social crime, because it used to be accepted, so people have to break the law or go hungry. Increased due to forest laws because before peasants used what used to be known as common land.


Forest laws

30% of england became royal forest which william the 1st and norman nobility used for hunting protected by the forest laws. It was now illegal to graze animals or take wood without license from the royal forest. Village communities,farms were evicted from the land which caused resentment. They were seen as unfair by ordinary people so those who broke this law weren’t seen as criminals by society.


The norman invasion wasn’t welcomed by the anglo-saxons and was resistance for the first few years like large rebellions in  york and east anglia. Rebelling was betraying your lord an act against king, but now william had made this punishable e.g. now you would get the death penalty.

Murdrum fine

New law used to help establish control over conquered population. If an anglo-saxon murdered  a norman and the culprit wasn’t caught a large sum of money had to be paid by the area of land where the body was found. Murdering a norman was now more serious than

murdering an anglo-saxon. example of how the ruling classes can make laws to benefit themselves.

Law enforcement

  • Crime rates were low because there was a sense of community and so everyone knew everyone within their village and so affected how the law was enforced.


Hundred-area of land






Deciding guilt/


Punishment description

Shires were split into hundreds and then hundred was split into


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