Law And Order: Law And Order In The Middle Ages

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Law and Order in the Middle Ages Medieval Europe was a time of cruel punishments and terrible trials. While the people of the time made many significant changes to the law system, some important things remained the same throughout the era. Two of the most noteworthy examples are the way in which a suspected criminal’s guilt was determined and what could happen to them as punishment if found guilty. In medieval Europe, the way criminals were tried went through significant changes. One such change was the transition between Trial by Ordeal and Trial by Jury. Simon Newman from ‘The Finer Times’ said, “Law in The Middle Ages was influenced by superstitions and beliefs.” The two main ordeals peasants could be put through to prove themselves innocent,…show more content…
In the early Anglo-Saxon period, if a person was murdered the family of the victim had the right to hunt down and kill the murderer as part of a system called the blood feud. Alternatively, the murderer’s family had to pay a sum of money to the victim’s family, the value corresponding to persons place in the social hierarchy, e.g. a noble was 300 shillings and peasants were only 40 shillings (D. Hartley, 2015). After the Norman Conquest in 1066, this began to change with the death penalty replacing the blood feud and wergild becoming fines paid to the King. Also, in Norman times, poaching in the king’s forest became a crime that carried the death penalty and the later middle ages introduced the punishment for high treason of being ‘hanged, drawn and quartered’ to deter criminal activity. As said by Scott Rank, “An inquisitor thirsty for a confession had plenty of medieval tools of torture at his disposal: the iron maiden, the judas cradle, the rack, or the brazen bull. Turns out many of these devices are fabrications from hundreds of years later made for museums that wanted to display the barbarism of the ‘Dark Ages’”. Many punishments remained unchanged throughout the medieval era. These include mutilations, stocks and pillories, hangings among others. Theft, making false allegations, assault, forgery and hunting in royal grounds could all be

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