GCSE Revision 2008. Crime and Punishment. nmg08. Paper One – Possible topics. Saxon and Norman Justice How did the Saxons prevent crime? How did they catch lawbreakers? How were criminals punished? How harsh and superstitious was Saxon Justice?. Saxon Justice.
Crime and Punishment
Saxon and Norman Justice
Saxons used a group approach-the Tithing
Criminals would be chased by the Hue and Cry
Common assaults and theft would be dealt with by forcing the accused to pay compensation or Wergild to the victim
Sometimes criminals were executed
Sometimes God would decide through trial by ordeal
Guilt was decided by juries who knew both accused and accuser
Juries would swear an oath of COMPURGATION as to an accused’s innocence
Kept Trial by
Crime now seen as
Much of Saxon system
kept by William
Fines now paid to the
Trial by Combat
Tithings still used to keep law and order
Criminals pursued by the Hue and Cry
Deaths investigated by the Coroner
Sheriffs responsible for Law and Order
Trial by ordeal ended in 1215
Serious cases heard by Royal judges who travelled the country
Juries deciding guilt or innocence
Wergild no longer applied
Serious crimes punished by death or mutilation
Non attendees at court could be declared OUTLAW
Local manor courts dealt with minor crimesLate Middle Ages
Poverty & lack of
High level of tax on
Many imports led to
Many people in countryside
Hunting deer & rabbits.
Punishable by Death
Seen by many as chance for a day out – crowds laughed and drank – good opportunities for fighting and stealing!
“All the aims of public justice are defeated. All the effects of example, the terrors of death, the shame of punishment, are lost”
(London magistrates, 1783)
“ … a man who has picked the pocket of a handkerchief worth 13 pence is punished with
the same severity as if he had murdered a whole family. None should be punished with death except in cases of murder.”
(Sir William Meredith, MP 1770)
Calls for reform
Used often by courts
Succeeded in reforming convicts
Very few returned to England
Cost too much - £½ million per year by 1850
More prisons – cheaper to run
Crime rate had not fallen
Seen by many as opportunity rather than punishmentWas transportation a success?
For centuries constables
& watchmen used –
unpaid & inefficient!
Fielding Brothers (London Magistrates)
introduced Bow Street Runners)
Police seen as?
NB the dates are 50 years apart –
Does this mean that there was still a lot of opposition to the police?
There had been opposition to the idea of a national police force for many years. The fear was that the government would use it to cut down on people’s freedom, as well as the cost of such a scheme!
Peel was careful to avoid any link with the Army with his ‘Peelers’
Gradually the new police gained support and acceptance