Rather than give my patient readers at PBS one of a half-dozen possible entries complaining about some inexplicable crap that is part culture shock and part conflict of style, I will explain what I am attempting to do despite Oxford’s best efforts. I’m sorry, one of those complaints crept in under the door. I will need to get a gripe-excluder for writing sessions. I am going to try and pace those gripes between more positive entries that people could actually read and enjoy (or tolerate). It is too easy to use a blog for laundry lists of frustrations and while I am not big enough to avoid that entirely, I do have the self control to moderate it. So, instead of a bitch-fest about higher education, you get a miniature reading list on the English gentry. Continue reading
For some reason, this entry resisted clean-up through the WordPress system so I have disposed of the offending original and re-posted this one.
S. J. Payling wrote a short article back in 1998 that grappled with the unresolved problem of violence, order and the judiciary in fifteenth-century England. The problem, as it appears in many studies of Late Medieval English gentry, concerns the apparent lack of teeth in the English judicial system when it comes to the prosecution of violent crimes, especially when it concerns issues of property and inheritance. The argument is that despite all the bluster of the courts and the Crown, “coercive royal justice” was unable to “control the level of conflict through the deterrence of punishment.” Part of this failure is ascribed to corrupt local officials who had little incentive to stick to the letter of the law. Most “violent self-help” was controlled at the local, social level and the crown, excluded from the process, appears weak and incapable of maintaining order on its own authority.1