Capital and Corporal Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England

Gates, J.P., N. Marafioti  (eds)

Hardback, 224 pp. Boydell & Brewer 2014

Anglo-Saxon authorities often punished lawbreakers with harsh corporal penalties, such as execution, mutilation and imprisonment. Despite their severity, however, these penalties wereCapital and Corporal Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England not arbitrary exercises of power. Rather, they were informed by nuanced philosophies of punishment which sought to resolve conflict, keep the peace and enforce Christian morality.
The ten essays in this volume engage legal, literary, historical, and archaeological evidence to investigate the role of punishment in Anglo-Saxon society.
Three dominant themes emerge in the collection. First is the shift from a culture of retributive feud to a system of top-down punishment, in which penalties were imposed by an authority figure responsible for keeping the peace. Second is the use of spectacular punishment to enhance royal standing, as Anglo-Saxon kings sought to centralize and legitimize their power. Third is the intersection of secular punishment and penitential practice, as Christian authorities tempered penalties for material crime with concern for the souls of the condemned.
Together, these studies demonstrate that in Anglo-Saxon England, capital and corporal punishments were considered necessary, legitimate, and righteous methods of social control. 

1  Introduction: Capital and Corporal Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England
2  When Compensation Costs an Arm and a Leg
 3  Beginnings and Legitimation of Punishment in Early Anglo-Saxon Legislation From the         Seventh to the Ninth Century
 4  Genital Mutilation in Medieval Germanic Law
 5  'Sick-Maintenance' and Earlier English Law
 6  Incarceration as Judicial Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England
 7  Earthly Justice and Spiritual Consequences: Judging and Punishing in the Old                      EnglishConsolation of Philosophy
 8  Osteological Evidence of Corporal and Capital Punishment in Later Anglo-Saxon England
 9  Mutilation and Spectacle in Anglo-Saxon Legislation
10 The 'Worcester' Historians and Eadric Streona's Execution
11  Capital Punishment and the Anglo-Saxon Judicial Apparatus: A Maximum View?

Contributors: Valerie Allen, Jo Buckberry, Daniela Fruscione, Jay Paul Gates, Stefan Jurasinski, Nicole Marafioti, Daniel O'Gorman, Lisi Oliver, Andrew Rabin, Daniel Thomas.

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