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Crime and PunishmentThe King's judge at work: non-violent cases Return to the main page
Case Study 1- Did Medieval courts treat these cases differently to modern courts? Task Glossary

All these cases are from the records of the Eyre Court of Oxfordshire in 1241. The Eyre Court was taken by one of the king's judges, who travelled to each county regularly. A jury of twelve men from each of the "hundreds" (districts of the county) of Oxfordshire brought any case or legal problem to the Eyre Court which could not be dealt with by local courts. A mix of very different types of cases was heard, one after another.
In comparison to modern court cases, the cases were heard quickly. The judge listened to each side, asked a few questions and gave his decision. Even if he asked the jury for their verdict, they did not retire, but talked it over for a few minutes in the courtroom and announced their verdict. Cases rarely lasted more than half an hour.
Some cases, such as deciding on an uncertain death, are dealt with by a coroner today. Some people - clerks, or members of the church - did not have to appear before the royal courts. If you failed to appear, you were declared an outlaw. As this was a royal court, some cases were concerned with the monarch getting what was owed to him - the kind of problems dealt with by a tax inspector today.
(See also Case-Study 1 for some of the other cases the judge tried in Oxford that year.)

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