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When was the later middle ages?



Summaries the key beliefs and occurrences of the later middle ages.

Medieval kings took an even closer interest in laws, policing, trials and punishments. There was a growing belief that harsher punishments would be the best way to deter criminals.


What policing methods continued through to the later middle ages?

Hue and cry and tithings continued as most people still lived in small farming communities.


Describe how village constables aided policing in the later middle ages.

Village constables were appointed annually to look out for crime and were in charge of leading the hue and cry when necessary. The unpaired volunteers were well respected members of the community.


Describe the role of Coroners?

Coroners were royal officials. All unnatural deaths had to be reported to him to be investigated further. They were unpaid and performed their duties in their own time.


When was trial by ordeal abolished?



Name the types of trial used in the later middle ages.

Manor courts, which were local courts used to deal with minor crimes.
Royal judges travelled around the country hearing more serious cases.


Describe the role of the sheriff?

Each county had a sheriff who id the hue and cry failed, was responsible for assembling a posse to hunt down criminals. A posse is a group of men fifteen and over called on by the sheriff to track down a criminal.


Who were fines paid to in the later middle ages?

Most minor crimes were punished by fines paid to the king's officials.


Describe how public humiliations were used as a form of punishment in the later middle ages.

Stocks and pillories were used to punish certain crimes like selling weak beer or underweight bread. A pillory is a wooden frame with holes in that locked in the head and hands of the offender. A stock is a wooden frame with holes in that locked in the feet of the offender. Whipping was often used in public along with the stocks and pillories. Such punishments were intended to deter.


Did capital punishment increase or decrease?

The use of execution increased during this period. Hanging was seen as necessary public deterrent to reduce crime.


How did criminals avoid the death penalty?

There were several ways to avoid the death penalty...
Men could opt to fight in the army at times of war.
Pregnancy protected some women from execution.
Those who could read might claim benefit of the clergy and demand to be tried in a church court. Church courts were more lenient than royal courts and never sentenced people to death. If the criminal could reach a church and claim sanctuary, not even the sheriff could remove them as long as the accused agreed to leave the country.