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Lecture 3

CRM1301 Lecture 3: Age of Monarchy

Course Code
CRM 1301
Carolyn Gordon

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CRM Lecture 4 The Age of Monarchy
The Early middle Ages
England broken up into principalities
- Princes held absolute power within own borders
- Each prince owed allegiance to the king
Communication was poor
- Law was localized
- People couldn’t read or write
- Transportation was just the horse
- Information was very slow
- A lot of discretion
- The princes could make up their own laws
- But the system was not fair
William Normandy won battle over King Harold
- William beat King Harold and became the king of England
- Gave his generals a lot of land
- They would only make decisions in William’s favour
The Rise of the Monarch
Absolute monarchy
- The power to rule land freely, with no laws or legally-organized directed opposition in
- Local autonomy taken away in exchange for peace and safety
Society based on feudalism
- Lords and serfs
o Serfs: peasants, those who worked on the lands
o They needed permission of their lords
- Anytime with conflict with the lords, they would gather their serfs and they would duke it
Lord’s courts were developed
- Beginning of organized systems
The Emergence of the King’s Court
Re-defined private wrongs as crimes against the state
Henry II streamlined procedures and made them fairer
- Faster and fairer than the lords court
Circuit judges replaced informal methods of seeking justice based on local practises
Established common law
Stare desisi: deciding cases on the basis of situations of similar facts
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Why is this so important?
- To make it more consistent
- To make it more uniformed and predictable
- Less bias, make it much more neutral
- The judges created the common law not the king
The code of Hammurabi the first codified system
- ‘an eye for an eye’
The Divine Right of Kings
King inherited his authority directly from God
What does this mean for the commoners?
- You can’t question the King
- Would be seen going against the church
- They would be seen as questioning God
No one can question the King
Could be charged with?
- Heresy and treason
A form of social control
Trials by Ordeal
Or trial by torture
Heat = hot iron / hot water
Begin with swearing their innocence to God
Once they were punished and then bandaged for them to go home
After 3 days when they came back if it was healing they were seen as innocent
If it was not and has an infection they were guilty
Cold water: tied up a person, if they sank = innocent, floated = guilty
Trials by Battle
Knights fought to the death
One who lived = innocent, one who did = guilty
God would never let an innocent die
The wealthy - they got people to fight for them
I.e. today people who are wealthy have good lawyers, those who don’t have not such great
Trial by Cursed Morsel (for clergy)
Swallow food with feather
Choked on feather = guilty, if not = innocent
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