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.)