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Medieval Law

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Martha Leplae-Arthur

on 27 February 2013

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Transcript of Medieval Law

Court Cases Leon Humphreys
(December 2002) Court Cases Cont. Pretends to be busier than he is, Chaucer comments ironically on the tendency of humans to pretend

Commanded high fees for negotiating the purchase of land and could draft his legal documents so well that nobody can find any fault with them Chaucer's Lawyer "Modernized" Essentially, Chaucer's version of a lawyer is the
modern lawyer. Although the laws and
prosecution have changed, the job of the
lawyer has not. Medieval Law Martha Leplae-Arthur, Maggie O'Dell,
Michelle Tong, and Emma Wathen How was this
ever legal? Early Medieval Law -County Courts (Shires) -Presided by Sheriffs and Bishops (civil and ecclesiastical) Norman Conquest Law Under Henry II -Established "common law" -Unified system
-Started trial by jury
-Exchequer of Pleas (tax court for king)
-Court of Common Pleas (for commoners) -Curbed church law -Constitutions of Claredon -Expansion of royal jurisdiction into civil and church law -Less clerical independence
-Weaker connection to Rome
-Benefit of Clergy -The murder of Saint
Thomas of Becket Ordeals Ordeal by Fire Ordeal by Water Ordeal by Combat Hold a red hot iron bar Getting better in 3 days? You're innocent! Not getting better in 3 days? You're guilty! Get tied up and thrown in water You float? You're guilty! You drown? You're innocent! Fight (usually noblemen) You win? You're right! You lose? You're wrong! And usually dead!
And if you're not.. -Prisons cost too much- easier to kill or mutilate
-Thieves get hands cut off
-Female murderers are strangled and burnt
-Poachers get ears cut off
-Traitors are hanged, drawn, and quartered Consequences: Consequences -Cheaper to execute or mutilate than imprison
-Thieves get hands cut off
-Female murderers are strangled and burnt
-Poachers get ears cut off
-Traitors hanged then drawn and quartered 1215 -The Magna Carta: no freeman can be punished except through the law of the land (common law)
-Lateran Council: Pope decrees priests cannot help with ordeals
Two Options:
Trial by Combat: excludes a majority of the population; obsolete by 14th century
Trial by Jury: becomes universal... but optional and sometimes prejudiced Pros: -Accused can dismiss 35 jurymen without cause, more with
-Execution disallowed unless suspect cannot be caught otherwise
-Before 1300, children under 12 can't be convicted; after, only if could discern right from wrong Cons: -Accused cannot call witnesses
-Accused cannot have counsel
-Refusing trial -If person could prove they were a clerk, they got handed to church
-Between 1350 and 1490, easy escape from mandatory death penalty
-Every criminal could memorize psalter in advance! Sanctuary -Common in 13th century
-Parochial churches gave criminals immunity for 40 days
-Criminals can then choose to stand trial or "abjure" (be exiled)
-Hard to transport criminals/make sure they actually left
-Stopped by Henry VIII when he realized able-bodied English criminals were joining the French army -Stay in prison for refusing common law
-Get stoned to save descendents by dying untried -Benefit of Clergy Joan of Arc Background Burned at the stake
for heresy when she was 19 years old... ...but then she was canonized by the
Catholic Church in 1920 What does
this show? Joan of Arc Just in case you didn't
catch it the first time... -AKA Maid of Orléans
or Jeanne D'Arc

-French Heroine of the Hundred Years War

-Captured by the English in a Burgundian camp (1430) It was quackers. Sell your brother
to Ishmaelites
for cash Steal a loaf of
bread and break
a window pane Steal a
golden cup Trial
by jury Choose
an ordeal Benefit of Clergy Trial
by jury Choose
an ordeal Trial
by jury Benefit of
Clergy Choose
an ordeal Who's the thief?
Who's the thief?

Who's the thief?
Who's the thief? Benefit of
Clergy Congratulations! -Medieval law was often corrupt and
bribery/threat was common (go figure)

-Witchcraft = scapegoat
... "Manlike" (wore pants --> armor)
... Too powerful for a woman
... Must be "influenced by the Devil"

-Politically motivated (Duke of
Bedford and his nephew, Henry VI) skip to 0:50 THE
END -60 year old mechanic
-Fined 25 pounds for not notifying DVLA he'd stopped using motorcycle
-Tried to use trial by combat to avoid paying (of your life...) Irregular
Procedure Choose
your own
"crime" -Bishop Cauchon lacked proper jurisdiction
-Trial initiated WITHOUT sufficient evidence
-Joan of Arc = denied legal advisor
-Clerics/jury served under compulsion
-Illiterate, yet signed an abjuration document

*Later revealed that court transcript =
doctored to her disfavor How do we try
the criminal? Duel between William marshal of Dornberg and
Theodor hash field in Augsburg (...or not so much)
Full transcript