Medieval Crime and Social Control

By Barbara A. Hanawalt; David Wallace | Go to book overview

Introduction

Barbara A. Hanawalt and David Wallace

Crime, a term that enters Middle English from Old French, derives ultimately from the Latin cernere (to decide, discern, pass judgment). It is hence always bound up with matters of interpretation; such matters always subtend the most basic procedures for tracking down, trying, and punishing those who commit the basic felonies of larceny, burglary, robbery, arson, homicide, rape, and receiving of unknown felons. Medieval societies were continually redefining the actions that constituted these felonies; their legal definitions shifted markedly with variations of place and time. Many people took a role in formulating such definitions: officials administering the law, victims of criminous actions, and the accused all refined arguments for their self-interested positions. Victims demanded satisfaction, the accused sought exculpation, and the officers of social control sought to regulate things in such a way that their idea of good lordship or communal order in the emerging states could be maintained. Crime also encompassed behaviors that fell outside standard framings of felonious acts. Societies define deviance differently, proscribing certain sorts of behavior but tolerating others. In many medieval communities, for instance, levels of violent self-help in solving disputes far exceeded what we would consider desirable norms. And yet, at the same time, medieval society was gradually moving—through the repetitive definition, regulation, and punishment of behaviors considered antisocial — toward broader empowerment of the kind of state apparatus that suggests itself as normative, even indispensable, today.

If medieval communities were generally more accepting of personal vendetta, it is because it was a ready and often justifiable solution to perceived wrongs. Other recourses to justice could be too remote to guarantee satisfaction. Furthermore, the eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth principles could be reconciled with both biblical and Germanic law. Even when written law codes and the establishment of monarchies and feudal states meant that legal responsibility was in the hands of these authorities or of those to whom they delegated them, enforcement was sporadic. Set standards for social control officers varied from place to place, so that processes of arrest, trial, and punishment were as experimental and subject to change as were the very definitions of criminal behavior. Authorities competed. Lay, noble, and royal jurisdictions overlapped; towns had

-ix-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Medieval Crime and Social Control
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 264

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.