Cover: Crime and Conflict in English Communities, 1300–1348 in HARDCOVER

Crime and Conflict in English Communities, 1300–1348

Currently unavailable

Product Details


$32.00 • £25.95 • €29.00

ISBN 9780674175808

Publication Date: 10/01/1979


288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches



As this account of crime patterns in medieval England shows, crime can perhaps tell us more about a society’s dynamics, tensions, and values than any other single social phenomenon. And Barbara Hanawalt’s approach is particularly enlightening because it looks at the subject not from the heights of the era’s learned opinion, but from the viewpoint of the people participating in the criminal dramas and manipulating the law for their own benefit.

Hanawalt’s sources are those of the new social historian—village and judicial records supplemented by the literature of the time. She examined approximately 20,000 criminal court cases as well as coroners’ and manorial court rolls. Her analysis of these data produces striking results. Medieval England, the author reveals, was a society in which all classes readily sought violent solutions to conflicts. The tensions of village life were severe. The struggle for food and for profits caused numerous homicides and property crimes. These felonies were committed in seasonal patterns, with homicides occurring most frequently during the difficult times of planting and harvesting, and burglaries reaching a peak in winter when goods were stored in houses and barns.

Moreover, organized crime was widespread and varied. It ranged from simple associations of local people to professional bands led by members of the nobility. One of Hanawalt’s most interesting findings explodes the Robin Hood myth of robbers who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Almost always, she shows, the robbers stole from the poor and kept for themselves. Throughout, Hanawalt carefully places the crimes and their participants within the context of village life in the later middle ages. Along with a description of the social and legal setting of criminal acts, she includes a discussion of the influence of war, politics, and economic, social, and demographic changes on the patterns of crime.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene