Punishment in the Customary Law of Medieval English Boroughs
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Punishment in the Customary Law of Medieval English Boroughs
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The article is devoted to the problem of punishment in the customary law of English medieval boroughs. It reveals a number of links between customary law and social life of medieval boroughs. Connection between measure of penalties and heaviness of crime (or delict) is also revealed. It’s emphasized that the most rigid kinds of punishment (drowning, hanging, burial alive, quartering, etc.) followed for offences, connected with the breaking of the King’s peace and His Majesty’s property as well as for an attempt upon his subjects’ lives, property and freedom. So called “professional crimes” were also severely punished (hanging, cutting off an ear, pillory). Problems of forfeiture for felony as well as specific rules of distribution of the offender’s escheat are also put forward. The conclusion, made in the paper, doesn’t reveal mild character of “punishing” custom; just on the contrary: it was rather rigid and even cruel. It’s also clear that medieval custom, revealing its punishing nature, was connected with social and perhaps, “spiritual” differentiation of the medieval boroughs’ society. Such peculiarities as relicts of ordeals and folk-law elements, reflecting in the customs, which governed everyday life of medieval towns, are also shown in the paper.
medieval England, borough, punishment, custom, customary law, everyday life, crime, social development, kinds of punishment, forfeiture, escheat, character of punishment
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