The Evolution of Sanctuary in Medieval England

T. B. Lambert

in Legalism

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199664269
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744686 | DOI:
The Evolution of Sanctuary in Medieval England

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This chapter attempts to outline and explain the most salient changes in shape that have happened to sanctuary over a period of about 900 years. Sanctuary, from sometime late in the twelfth century, enabled felons to seek refuge in a church for up to forty days, at which point they were often able to abjure the realm. Law here presented enforcers, communities, and culprits with choices and interpretive possibilities. In the later Middle Ages the formal institution of sanctuary did not match political needs or even the logic of legal practice more broadly, indicating the potential disjunctions between different aspects of legalism, and the ways in which some procedures become ossified whilst others continue to develop. The chapter also discusses jurisdiction. Sanctuary offers a markedly unhierarchical set of ‘sacred spaces’ within which certain rules apply.

Keywords: sanctuary; legalism; sacred spaces; Middle Ages; legal practice; jurisdiction

Chapter.  14131 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law ; History of Law

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