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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 7: Edwardian legislation, the end of the Eyre, and Outlawry at the end of the thirteenth century


Following the Baronial Reforms of the 1250s and 1260s, the inquests and legis- lation which occurred during the reign of Edward I were intended to reform le- gal and administrative processes, quell the abuses committed by royal personnel throughout England, and reestablish order throughout the realm.607 By the sus- pension of the eyre in 1294, the Crown had refined local legal processes and had further solidified its control over the administration of justice. Outlawry, abjura- tion, and imprisonment played key roles in these changes and by the mid-1290s, the practices were adapted to function in the new legal setting. Edwardian Reforms, Legislation, Outlawry and Imprisonment The Edwardian reforms began with mass investigations into administrative and legal affairs in England. Upon Edward I‘s accession to the throne in 1272, the general eyre was suspended and a countrywide inquest into the hundreds was conducted. Royal officials carried out the inquest, the likes of which had not been undertaken in England since the Domesday Survey. Justices inquired into financial and judicial matters in the hundreds. Many of the articles of inquiry resembled the earlier articles in eyre, but now, far more specific and substantive chapters were added.608 Much of the inquest focused upon the duties and deeds of royal officials, specifically sheriffs, and abuses related to their peace-keeping, judicial, and financial capacities. Concerns over the mistreatment of prisoners and injustice resulting from bribes, extortion, or excess resulted in heightened accountability of royal officials maintaining gaols. Sheriffs who had failed to capture and...

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