Rather than write the usual summary of my work over the last few months, which is rather tedious and unhelpful, I thought it would be better to remind myself what I am currently working on or what I should be working on, when I am not writing little entries for this deliberately obscure blog. Continue reading
Research can, on occasion, present the scholar with a difficult choice between sources of evidence. The written and material records do not always agree and one is left with an uncomfortable choice between arbitrary preference or awkward uncertainty. Actually, this problem may be more common than people like to admit and so it’s great fun to find close analogues between the records and the archaeology. My self-directed Latin study has reminded me of one such match.
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
Once again, I find myself violating my ‘no current-affairs’ guidelines but this just fell into my lap. Some obscure American political hopeful said some surprisingly ignorant things in public and although it deserves all the ridicule it can handle, I was surprised to see that his opinion on rape and conception is entirely consistent with fourteenth century English legal doctrine. Continue reading