By Jean Dunbabin
Medieval imprisonment used to be now not commonly punitive. in its place, it used to be meant as a mode of coercion, to exort ransom or revenge from a fellow aristocrat, to self-discipline individuals of a loved ones or to take away a deadly opponent. additionally, as Dunbabin's fascinating research makes transparent, different types of captivity may differ to a rare degree
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Extra resources for Captivity and Imprisonment in Medieval Europe, 1000-1300 (Medieval Culture and Society)
This was probably because the system was geared to favouring those of high social standing, while exacting harsh retribution from the poor and friendless who would not dare to complain subsequently. In this respect the end of the first millennium resembled most of human history. Therefore the Roman legacy of imprisonment appeared by 1000 to have sunk without trace in a world very different from that in which the Roman customs had been formulated. Where the chroniclers did talk of captivity around 1000, they revealed it as a predominantly coercive measure, from which those travelling from home or participating in conflict, whether in war or political battle, were particularly prone to suffer.
In other words, the old administrative and legal system that had regulated the lives of free men gave way quite suddenly to a newer, The Means of Detention in the High Middle Ages 35 and in his view more effective, form of local control in which physical force played a more dominant role than it had done in the past, and in which freemen were subjected to treatment hitherto reserved for serfs. The building of castles was crucial to this change. There has recently been much dispute about this model, both in itself and in its application to areas other than the Mâconnais.
The drawbacks were particularly evident to clerics who, for historical reasons, engaged in constant battles over jurisdiction with their lay counterparts. 70 These were presumably rather like the huts mentioned above erected within Henry II’s castle walls. An arrangement more inconvenient for the canons could hardly be imagined. But at least they could keep a sharp eye on their prisoners. 71 Inquisitorial prisons, when purpose built, had dungeons and upper chambers like the majority of urban ones.