Medieval Crime and Punishment Flashcards


This flashcard deck is part of our series on medieval crime and punishment. Here we present the main terms and definitions that you need to know to be able to understand the period and be successful in exam questions.
Andrew Burke
Flashcards by Andrew Burke, updated more than 1 year ago
Andrew Burke
Created by Andrew Burke almost 6 years ago

Resource summary

Question Answer
King's Peace Anglo-Saxon belief that it was the king's duty to take care of law and order.
Treason The crime of betraying one's own king.
Social Structure Nobles > Freemen > Serfs
Crimes against the person Causing physical harm to another person.
Crimes against property Taking or damaging belongings of another person.
Collective Responsibility Being responsible for the actions of other members of the community. If someone breaks the law it is up to everyone in the village to take action.
Reeve A local official who was appointed by the community.
King's Shire Reeve Local appointed man who brought criminals to justice.
Moral Crimes Actions that went against the expectations of society e.g. disobeying church teaching
Oaths Formally declaration of fact to prove your innocence i.e. "I swear before God..."
Trial by Ordeal A variety of trials by Church authorities to test whether someone was guilty or innocent in the eyes of God.
Maiming A punishment recommended by the church to allow criminals time to seek forgiveness e.g. hand cut-off
Wergild A fine that was paid by a murderer to a victim's family - compensation paid for the person's life.
Capital Punishment Receiving the death penalty, which would occur if you committed treason.
Corporal Punishment Selection of punishments aimed at causing harm or pain without killing. Corporal punishment acts as a deterrent.
Retribution The belief that the scale of punishment should match the scale of the crime committed.
Poaching Illegally hunting on land that does not belong to you.
King's Mund The Norman law system was founded on the idea that all people should expect to be safe from crime, and to live peacefully within their communities, under the authority of the king.
Branding Marking a criminal by burning their flesh with a hot iron. This was meant to act as a long-term punishment.
Statute of Labourers A law introduced in 1351 that established a maximum wage for workers.
Parliament In the 13th century, parliament involved the gathering of powerful individuals with the king to converse and introduce new legal practices.
Heresy Holding a set of beliefs that were different from the established religion of the time.
High Treason Plotting to betray or kill the king. Seen as a crime against God as well as the king.
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