These two Acts illustrate ways in which the Tudor state dealt
with economic and social problems.
Henry VII's Act for the repressing of riots is an example of his
attempts to deal with law and order. It deals with the issue of
civil disorder, which had been a characteristic of the period dominated
by the Wars of the Roses and remained so throughout the 16th century.
In addition, it refers to the role of Justices of the Peace - who
were given more powers during Henry's reign - and also that of juries,
which tended to be corrupt and liable to intimidation.
Later in the century, economic problems and plague outbreaks were
the cause of large numbers of people moving about the countryside,
looking for work and for places to live free from the risk of infection.
That they were perceived as a threat to law and order is clear from
the first section of the Act for the punishment of vagabonds (dealing
with their treatment by the legal system, which attempted to limit
people to their own parishes). That there remained a welfare issue
is also demonstrated by the Act. The dissolution
of the monasteries
by Henry VIII had removed a source of charitable aid, and the Act
represents a move away from religious to state support for the poor.
In the later section of the Act reproduced here, a mechanism for
the welfare of the poor is detailed: they were to be recorded and
supported by a tax on the local inhabitants.
HLRO HL/PO/PU/1/1503/19H7n11 (1503)
HLRO HL/PO/PU/1/1572/14Eliz1n5 (1572)