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Crime & Punishment (Anglo Saxon and Medieval England)

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by Kate Davison on 30 June 2013

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Transcript of Crime & Punishment (Anglo Saxon and Medieval England)

crime and punishment
Anglo-Saxon and Medieval England
Anglo Saxon England
AD 400
multiple kingdoms
individual laws
Crimes
Theft
murder
(accidental death)
accidents
(e.g work related)
injury

Alfred the Great -
"If at work, man accidently
lets a tree fall and kill another man, the dead man's family keeps the tree"

King Ethelbert of Kent -
"If anyone steals from a church, they are to pay the church twelve times the value of the object they have stolen"
Trials and Justice

Prisons were holding facilities before trial (folk moot)

The victim brought witnesses

(if the defendant did not attend on trial he could be killed on sight)
The defendant, victim (if alive) and witnesses would recall the events.

Could call oath-helpers (rare)

trial by jury

Judge would decide and deliver punishment
often a village elder or lord

Trial by ordeal sometimes used (during Christian periods)

Policing
relied on ordinary people and communities

obligation to raise hue and cry in the tithing
(fines if this was not done, and for those in the community who did not take part in it)

The tithing had responsibility to bring the accused to their trial

Punishment
Wergilds (blood prices) and compensation
eye = 50 shillings
tooth = 1 shilling

Rebellions against kings and lords and murder of high lords warranted the death penalty
Inequalities
"Price" of a life depended on status e.g form Ethelbert's and Alfred's laws:
slave: 20 shillings
freeman: 100 shillings
nobleman: 300 shillings
Medieval England
post 1066
Unified England
Crimes
similar crimes although due to the unification under one king, more of a focus on treason and acts against the king

hierarchy of crimes
high treason
murder, manslaughter, stealing high value items
petty crimes (fighting, drunkenness and small thefts)
Trials and Justice
The manor court, the lord would act as a judge over small crimes committed in a community
jury of 12 determined innocent
Shire courts used in more serious cases (x2 per year)
Trials by ordeals sometimes used (especially if guilt was difficult to determine)

Trial by ordeal fell out of use when Henry II extended the
judicial system appointing honest
lawyers and set up traveling
courts to hear cases. In the 13th
century trial by jury became the
official method of trial in England.

Policing
The watch set up in towns and cities
one constable lead each watch (unpaid jobs and often ineffective)

In villages the hue and cry continued to be used
Tithing still used

In 1129 King Henry I fined all members of four villages for failing to catch a murder quick enough

Punishment
punishments varied according to the crime e.g

high treason = hung, drawn and quartered (beheading was reserved for the nobility)
murder = hanging (men), burning (women)
theft = stocks or pillory, whipping, fines

Punishments in Church courts (given to those who could read a passage from the bible, usually clergy) were lighter
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