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Were the Middle Ages lawless and violent?
One view of the Middle Ages is of grim castles, brutal barons and ruthless outlaws. It is a picture of lawlessness and violence which makes our own age seem peaceful by contrast. Is this an accurate view of the Middle Ages?
The BIG QUESTION in this Strand is about how much
crime has changed over the centuries. One of the problems in answering
this question is finding out just what the real crime situation was in
any period. Court records are the main source of information, but there
are two big problems in using them. First, they only tell you about crime
and criminals. To read court records is to read about crime after crime.
They tell us nothing about those who did not get into trouble with the
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