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Outlawry, Governance, and Law in Medieval England


Melissa Sartore

Outlawry, Governance, and Law in Medieval England evaluates the role of exclusionary practices, namely outlawry, in law and governance in England from the tenth through the thirteenth centuries. Traditional historical narratives dismiss exile, outlawry, and banishment as ineffective and weak methods of maintaining social order. More specifically, the pres¬ent volume reassesses these forms of exclusion in matters of politics, law, and society, as well as their influence on increased use of imprisonment in later medieval England. Outlawry, Governance, and Law in Medieval England is essential reading for scholars working in this field but is also highly recommended as a text for courses that assess medieval law and the practice of outlawry as well as the development of English Common Law.


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Chapter 3: Exile, Outlawry, and Imprisonment in Norman and Anglo-Norman Governance and Law


Practices of exclusion were affected by Norman centralization in late eleventh- century England, as post-Conquest Norman rule brought new characteristics to exile, banishment, and outlawry. To the Normans, many of the customary prac- tices of law and order in England threatened to weaken the authority enjoyed by the dukes of Normandy, now also kings of England. Simultaneously, there was an increased use of imprisonment once the Normans arrived in England. Alt- hough imprisonment remained a minimal part of Anglo-Norman society, its presence represented the earliest stages of a shift in methods used to maintain law and order. Law and Practice in Tenth and Eleventh Century Normandy Dukes of Normandy retained the right to outlaw public enemies from their Scandinavian ancestors.117 The power to exile in Normandy was a component of 117 F. Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom of England: 1042-1216, 4th edn (London and New York: Longman, 1988), 105; E. van Houts, “The Vocabulary of Exile and Outlawry in the North Sea Area around the First Millennium,” 13-28. The similarities between Scandinavian, Norman and Anglo-Saxon terminology for exile and outlawry create some confusion and uncertainty at times but also remind us that political and legal prac- tices were very much intertwined and often indistinguishable. For more on Scandinavi- an outlawry, see “Outlawry” under the entry “Crime and Punishment” on page 116 of Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia ed. P. Pulsiano and K. Wolf (New York, NY: Garland, 1993) and W.I. Miller, Bloodtaking and peacemaking: feud, law, and society in Saga Iceland, (1990)...

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