The development of criminal justice
in Crime, Law and Society in the Later Middle Ages
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The extracts in this chapter provide an idea of the scope of the jurisdiction of the institutions as set out in their articles and commissions. This chapter investigates the nature of medieval criminal justice. A more permanent solution to the problems of local justice was found in the development of the county circuits of assize and gaol delivery. In the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries general oyer and terminer commissions were employed less frequently as the assize justices and court of king's bench took over much of the investigation of the behaviour of officialdom. Equally important for local justice was the evolution of the office of justice of the peace, which largely took place during the fourteenth century. The precociousness of the system was responsible for the enormous variety of cases that came before the justices.


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