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Title: Perceptions of lawlessness : the contribution of the Honour of Leicester to crime and lawlessness between 1260 and 1360 and its bearing on the ballad literature of the period
Authors: Bates, Kathryn Joy
Award date: 1999
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This dissertation addresses the different perceptions of lawlessness held by the magnate and gentry classes in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. These attitudes are analysed in relation to the coalescence of the Honour of Leicester within the Earldom of Lancaster, the acceleration of the retaining phenomenon, changes in the legal system and the accompanying rise in recorded crime.;Crime figures obtained from selected gaol delivery rolls, the Calendars of the Close and Patent Rolls, alongside evidence from the surviving eyre and assize rolls, demonstrate a rise in lawlessness between 1260 and 1360. The reasons for this increase, its perception by the population, and its portrayal in the ballads and political songs are the major themes of this thesis.;The anarchy that followed the death of Simon de Montfort, the development of the Earldom of Lancaster, the abandonment of the eyre, continuing wars, purveyance, disease, taxation, the rise of professionalism, and the practice of retaining all encouraged crime. The attitude that violence and extortion were not only acceptable, but were a means of political and social elevation is repeated in both the legal documents and literature of the day. Felons of the age, such as the Folvilles and Beltofts, are mirrored in the tales of Robin Hood, Gamelyn and Adam Bell.;Lawlessness had become an acceptable means of self-advancement for the gentry and magnate classes. Families competed for retaining alliances that brought power, influence and control of the local area; corruption was bound to follow, and consequently lawlessness. Contemporary poets could confidently place the outlaw as the hero against the tyranny of the crown, and the injustice of the law.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Historical Studies
Leicester Theses

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