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The growth of legal consciousness from Magna Carta to the Peasants’ Revolt
Author: Anthony Musson

This book is intended as both a history of judicial developments in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and as a contribution to the intellectual history of the period. The dates 1215 and 1381 mark significant turning points in English history. The product of legal culture and experiences, 'legal consciousness' can be seen both as an active element shaping people's values, beliefs and aspirations and also as a passive agent providing a reserve of knowledge, memory and reflective thought, influencing not simply the development of the law and legal system, but also political attitudes. Focusing on the different contexts of law and legal relations, the book aims to shift the traditional conceptual boundaries of 'law', portraying both the law's inherent diversity and its multi-dimensional character. By offering a re-conceptualisation of the role of the law in medieval England, the book aims to engage the reader in new ways of thinking about the political events occurring during these centuries. It considers the long-term effects of civil lawyer, Master John Appleby's encounter with forces questioning royal government and provides a new explanation for the dangerous state of affairs faced by the boy-king during the Peasants' Revolt over a century and a half later. The book puts forward the view that the years subsequent to the signing of Magna Carta yielded a new (and shifting) perspective, both in terms of prevailing concepts of 'law' and 'justice' and with regard to political life in general.

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.

Marriage In fifteenth-century Valencia

This book examines labouring-status women in late medieval Valencia as they negotiated the fundamentally defining experience of their lives: marriage. Through the use of notarial records and civil court cases, it argues that the socio-economic and immigrant status of these women greatly enhanced their ability to exercise agency not only in choosing a spouse and gathering dotal assets, but also in controlling this property after they wed. Although the prevailing legal code in Valencia appeared to give wives little authority over these assets, court records demonstrate they were still able to negotiate a measure of control. In these actions, labouring-status wives exercised agency by protecting their marital goods from harm, using legal statutes to their own advantage.

The key factors in this argument are the immigrant and labouring-status background of these women. Many women immigrated to Valencia on their own from smaller towns and villages. In doing so, these women moved outside of their natal families’ sphere of influence, making them less embedded and subject to the authority of their kin relations. Labouring-status women worked themselves, most often as servants, to generate the necessary funds for their dowries. These factors gave wives of this status greater agency than elite women in contracting their marriages, providing dotal assets and challenging their husbands’ authority over this property in dowry restitution cases. Without the influence of their natal families in making marital decisions, these wives were able to act independently in controlling their marital property, negotiating the structures of patriarchy to their advantage.

Commerce, crime and community in England, 1300–1500
Author: Teresa Phipps

This book explores the legal actions of women living in three English towns – Nottingham, Chester and Winchester – during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. For the first time, it brings together women’s involvement in a wide range of litigation, including pleas of debt and trespass, as well as the actions for which they were punished under local policing and regulations. The book details the multiple reasons that women engaged with the law in their local communities, all arising from their interpersonal relationships and everyday work and trade. Through the examination of thousands of original court cases, it reveals the identities of hundreds of ordinary urban women and the wide range of legal actions that they participated in. This wide-ranging, comparative study examines the differing ways that women’s legal status was defined in multiple towns, and according to different situations and pleas. It pays close attention to the experiences of married women and the complex and malleable nature of coverture, which did not always make them completely invisible. The book offers new perspectives on women’s legal position and engagement with the law, their work and commercial roles, the gendering of violence and honour, and the practical implications of coverture and marital status, highlighting the importance of examining the legal roles and experiences of individual women. Its basis in the records of medieval town courts also offers a valuable insight into the workings of these courts and the lives and identities of those that used them.

M. T. Clanchy

and government in the tenth century as they were in the thirteenth’. 3 Many fewer texts survive from the tenth century than from the thirteenth; historians should acknowledge this and not attempt to fill what is a vacuum in the evidence with unproven presumptions about early medieval people being primitive in mentality. The argument from mentalities is circular, as Reynolds points out. The interpretation of early medieval law as ‘essentially formal and ritualised depends on assuming that it must have been, because primitive law must by definition be formal and

in Law, laity and solidarities
Abstract only
Anthony Musson and Edward Powell

material and point the way towards further avenues is thus long overdue. 7 This book provides an introduction to the English legal system and its development during the period c 1215-1485. The opening section considers the theoretical and ideological aspects of medieval law and justice, examining (in Chapters 1 and 2 respectively) the concepts and discourses to be found in official and non

in Crime, Law and Society in the Later Middle Ages
Abstract only
Philippa Byrne

’s discussion of how ‘English’ judges engaged with moral theology must , by necessity, follow different lines from those discussing continental judges. The thicket of historiographical assumptions and myths which have grown up around the common law, emphasising its isolation, particularism and even ‘native purity’, demand a treatment of their own. Thus, before one can even approach the medieval law itself, one must consider exactly what historians mean when they talk about medieval justice and medieval mercy. To offer a history of medieval justice

in Justice and mercy
A conceptual history 1200–1900

This collection explores how concepts of intellectual or learning disability evolved from a range of influences, gradually developing from earlier and decidedly distinct concepts, including ‘idiocy’ and ‘folly’, which were themselves generated by very specific social and intellectual environments. With essays extending across legal, educational, literary, religious, philosophical, and psychiatric histories, this collection maintains a rigorous distinction between historical and contemporary concepts in demonstrating how intellectual disability and related notions were products of the prevailing social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which they took form, and themselves performed important functions within these environments. Focusing on British and European material from the middle ages to the late nineteenth century, this collection asks ‘How and why did these concepts form?’ ‘How did they connect with one another?’ and ‘What historical circumstances contributed to building these connections?’ While the emphasis is on conceptual history or a history of ideas, these essays also address the consequences of these defining forces for the people who found themselves enclosed by the shifting definitional field.

Paul Hindle

Public Works in Medieval Law (1915 and 1923) have a rich collection of contemporary accounts of the maintenance of bridges, ditches and rivers as well as roads. He coined the memorable phrase that ‘the King’s Highway made and maintained itself’,6 and noted that there was no legal distinction between a king’s highway (via regia) and a common road (via communis). The first article to attempt to study the road network (by Sir Frank Stenton) was not published until 1936.7 A few new roads were built; for example, in 1278 Roger Mortimer was charged by Edward I to enlarge and

in Roadworks
Laws and intellectual disability
Irina Metzler

did not state so explicitly, the lumping together of the deaf or dumb, insane, intoxicated and children as unsuitable prefigures the wider cross-cultural practice – later Roman or medieval laws – of excluding such persons deemed insufficiently mature or mentally adept enough to perform tasks related to legal or religious offices. According to the Babylonian Talmud , a person who was, in modern parlance, either mentally ill or intellectually disabled was considered a person without reason and, by extension, mentally and legally incompetent, which is why under

in Fools and idiots?