Punishments for Rent Arreas in the Boroughs of Medieval England
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Punishments for Rent Arreas in the Boroughs of Medieval England
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Marina Vinokurova 
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

The article is devoted to borough customs of medieval England (11th — 16th). Main criteria of medieval boroughs are represented in the article. Importance of medieval custom and customary law is accented. Medieval custom is defined as a special algorithm of behavior based on a traditional character of its applying, which began its existence in «times out of mind» and had been living in the memory and everyday life of generations for a long period. Customs, which regulated land relations, were of great importance, including one, connected with the rules of land’s seizure for rent arreas. Rent arreas were considered to be a special case of debt obligations, while land seizure was a manifestation of a general rule of customary law named distress (arrest and seizure of property for debts); it was often used in the medieval boroughs. Article demonstrates the fact of thorough consideration of rent arreas’ cases in the customary law of medieval English boroughs. Rent arreas were punished rather severely. It might be, e. g., the sale of the debtor’s land, arrest and seizure of all his landed property and movables, debt collection by force on the plot of land (in spite of the enclosure with the purpose to prohibit the entrance of an owner or administrative persons of the borough), possibility for the lender to apply to the borough court as a plaintiff with the purpose of judicial debt compensation, sequestration of the land for different terms, recovery of the land by the lord in the case of two-years’ delay in payment by debtor, high fines, depending on specificity of local customs. Thus, all these data give to the researcher an opportunity of better understanding the specificity of seisin (free possession, defended not only by customary, but by both common and statute law)  in medieval England. Moreover, the analysis of the texts gave an opportunity to estimate the specific character of socio-legal space: based on the custom, it minimized behavioral anarchy and regularized various sides of medieval England’s everyday life.

medieval England, borough, custom, customary law, rent arreas, land seizure, everyday life
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