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

By Richard W. Kaeuper | Go to book overview

5
Conclusion

By the thirteenth century the Western state was launched on its remarkable course as the agency defining and practising legitimate violence while working to suppress the illicit violence of private persons at every social rank within its boundaries. Across the previous several centuries the state had begun to establish this position as arbiter of questions of war, justice, and public order in European society; in the kingdoms of England and France it was acquiring something of its basic administrative structure and some of its most basic powers. Royal governments increasingly made good their claims to superior jurisdiction and provided courts of law which attracted an increasing volume of litigation. They augmented their revenues dramatically and (with different degrees of success) launched experiments in direct taxation. Combining feudal obligations with yet older notions of service and with the enabling medium of cash, they increased their military capacities significantly. Within the bounds of their respective realms they claimed a special responsibility (sometimes working indirectly) for the regulation of the violence of their subjects, noble and non-noble alike. Although Englishmen and Frenchmen kept their eyes on the kings’ agents and their hands on their purses, they basically supported the massive growth of royal power which was such a feature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The support of a large percentage of the growing number of those people whose opinions counted was, in fact, a necessary condition for this movement towards state power. The cry for reform, it is true, came from subjects interested in lowering costs and raising standards of administrative practice as often as from crown agents interested in efficiency; the exchange of views could, moreover, be hot-tempered and might bring parties in armour on to the field; but the role of the state as a major arbiter of disputes, an enactor and enforcer of laws, a leader in war, a dispenser of patronage—along with the rather

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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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