Public disorder, policing and misbehaving women
in Medieval women and urban justice
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This chapter uses the records of urban policing to recover women’s wrongdoing in relation to affray, bloodshed and moral offences such as prostitution. These offences were reported and punished via presentments made by local officials and offer a wider perspective on women’s misbehaviour and its punishment, encompassing the disruptive use of women’s voices and their use of the hue and cry as a policing mechanism. It argues that no type of disorder was exclusively male or female and that both sexes had the capacity to harm others and the urban community through their unlawful and immoral behaviour. These records illuminate town officials’ use of policing to create and maintain peaceful communities in order to promote their civic status and foster economic prosperity, and together with Chapter 4, this chapter helps to create a more rounded picture of the various ways in which misbehaviour and violence gave rise to different legal actions.

Medieval women and urban justice

Commerce, crime and community in England, 1300–1500

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