War, Justice, and Public Order: England and France in the Later Middle Ages

By Richard W. Kaeuper | Go to book overview

Introduction

On opposite sides of the great seal by which they authenticated their solemn orders and grants, the kings of Medieval England presented two formal images of their kingship: on the obverse side the king appeared seated on the royal throne, bearing sceptre in one hand and orb in the other; on the reverse side the king appeared as a knight in armour, mounted on a war horse (a ‘covered destrier’), charging with drawn sword. The great seal might be taken symbolically as a kind of political or constitutional sic et non, each face representing a set of potentially contradictory statements about the role of kingship in the emerging state: the king as fount of justice and giver of law; the king as chief chivalric war-lord. These contrasting images point to the central concern of this book, the relationship between law and war in the Medieval state. For as it emerged in the High Middle Ages the European state was both a war-state and a law-state. The growing demands of a more developed society across the High Medieval centuries promoted royal efforts in the fundamental areas of law, order, and justice and brought significant advances in the development of the Western state. The crown in both England and France was becoming the institution which dispensed justice and provided whatever regulation of violence was possible on the scale of the entire realm. These states could speak of their superior powers exercised for the public good and for the common utility, drawing upon their actual experience and upon the categories and concepts of Roman law. Kings in each country claimed, if not an outright monopoly of legitimate violence, at least some divinely sanctioned authority for the regulation of violence and the protection of the powerless. In two ways, then, the king’s government worked toward the goals of justice and order. For the regulation of daily life and the resolution of the disputes which so easily disrupt it, the crown provided criminal courts and officials to prosecute offenders and civil courts and

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War, Justice, and Public Order: England and France in the Later Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Enterprise of War 11
  • 2 - Royal Justice and Public Order 134
  • 3 - Chivalry, the State, and Public Order 184
  • 4 - Vox Populi 269
  • 5 - Conclusion 381
  • Bibliography 393
  • Index 425
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