This book provides an introduction to the English legal system and its development during the period c 1215-1485. It affords a valuable insight into the character of medieval governance as well as revealing the complex nexus of interests, attitudes and relationships prevailing in society during the later Middle Ages. The book considers the theoretical and ideological aspects of medieval law and justice, examining the concepts and discourses to be found in official and non-official circles. It concentrates on manifestations of crime and disorder and the royal response to this in the form of the development of judicial institutions. The book then looks at the dispensation of justice both inside and outside the courtroom. It examines in detail the machinery and functioning of criminal justice both in the royal courts and in those autonomous areas exercising delegated powers. The book also considers the use of extra-judicial methods, such as arbitration and 'self-help', to illustrate the interaction of formal and informal methods of dispute settlement. It focuses on the personnel of justice, the justices of the central courts and the local officials who carried out the day-to-day administrative tasks. The smooth and successful operation of the judicial system was challenged and sometimes hindered by the existence of corrupt practices and abuse of its procedures.
The number of monasteries in
medieval England remained remarkably stable over the latermiddleages. Only a small number of new foundations were made after 1300,
mostly lesser houses of Augustinian canons (like Maxstoke) or the
fashionable priories of the Carthusians which could be endowed
collectively. Similarly, the only major dissolution of these years
court, and the circumstances of weak and divided kingship set the stage for the most radical and widespread revolts in England during the Middle Ages, the so-called Peasants’ Revolt that reverberated throughout English cities and towns.’
This perfect storm of inter-related factors led to the most dangerously radical event in the lateMiddleAges: ‘perhaps for the first time in English social history, peasant protest against their lords now reached beyond single manors or single landlords to spread across county
It was in the later medieval period that the use of lights in worship reached a high point, before being challenged and brought to a sudden end in some regions of Europe in the movement known as the ‘Reformation’. The argument over the course of this study has been that pressure from the top over several centuries helped to generate support from below with the effect that more and more people became involved in meeting the costs of religious practice. By the time of the laterMiddleAges most areas in Western Europe were wealthier than they had ever been, and
. 14–15. Ball was especially critical of clerical abuses: Rigby, English Society in the LaterMiddleAges , p. 235.
Caroline M. Barron, ‘The Reign of Richard II’, in Jones, ed., The New Cambridge Medieval History , pp. 297–333, at p. 299.
Anon., ‘A Song on the Times’, in Thomas Wright, Thomas