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Look Inside Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England

Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England

£90.00

Part of Studies in Legal History

  • Publication planned for: August 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from August 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108498791

£ 90.00
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  • This book explores the role of mens rea, broadly defined as a factor in jury assessments of guilt and innocence from the early thirteenth through the fourteenth century - the first two centuries of the English criminal trial jury. Drawing upon evidence from the plea rolls, but also relying heavily upon non-legal textual sources such as popular literature and guides for confessors, Elizabeth Papp Kamali argues that issues of mind were central to jurors' determinations of whether a particular defendant should be convicted, pardoned, or acquitted outright. Demonstrating that the word 'felony' itself connoted a guilty state of mind, she explores the interplay between social conceptions of guilt and innocence and jury behavior. Furthermore, she reveals a medieval understanding of felony that involved, in its paradigmatic form, three essential elements: an act that was reasoned, was willed in a way not constrained by necessity, and was evil or wicked in its essence.

    • Examines what factors juries weighed in sorting the guilty from the innocent in the first two centuries of the criminal trial jury
    • Situates the medieval English law of felony in a broader cultural, social, and religious setting
    • Speaks to current controversies in the field of criminal law, such as the role of intentionality in determining the bounds of criminal responsibility
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Probing the boundaries of popular conceptions of mens rea, Kamali draws on a remarkable array of non-legal sources, from homilies and theological treatises, to poems, ballads, and romance literature. In so doing, Kamali becomes one of the few legal historians to analyze the law with respect to the culture that produced it. The result is an engrossing study of medieval England's justices and jurors and the cultural pressures that influenced their verdicts.' Sara M. Butler, King George III Professor in British History, Ohio State University

    'No one who reads Elizabeth Papp Kamali's study of mens rea in the operation of medieval English justice can come away unimpressed. It is founded on a thorough exploration of the legal sources, but it is profoundly enriched by the author's brilliant exploitation of literary sources. Taken together, both sorts of texts allow Professor Kamali to uncover more than we have ever known of the mentality of English judges, jurors and, criminals alike. Her book is in every way a tour de force.' William Chester Jordan, author of From England to France: Felony and Exile in the High Middle Ages

    'Elizabeth Papp Kamali's compelling analysis of felony trials demonstrates how a masterful engagement in religious and literary sources illuminates and enriches our understanding of the formal legal world in the later medieval period - its actors, its processes, its rules and, particularly, its outcomes. This ground breaking book deserves to be read for a very long time indeed.' Alice Taylor, King's College London

    'Kamali's book is not just a tour de force. It is a scholarly treat, brilliantly marrying legal and literary history. Medievalists with any interest in law should rush to read it.' James Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law, Yale University

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: August 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108498791
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: Not yet published - available from August 2019
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    Acknowledgments
    List of abbreviations
    Introduction
    The history of Mens Rea
    Methodology
    The trial jury and its predecessors: Anglo-Saxon and Angevin Antecedents
    A brief chapter summary
    The essentials of medieval English felony procedure
    Part I. Felonia Felonice Facta: Felony and Intentionality:
    1. The meaning of felony
    1.1 Felonia Felonice Facta and the question of non-felonious felonies
    1.2 The etymology of felony
    2. Felony in the archives
    2.1 Words of felony in law and literature
    2.2 Accomplice liability and the nexus between actus reus and mens rea
    2.3. A felonious state of mind
    2.4 Conclusion to Part I
    Part II. Þe Deuylys Doghtyr of Hellë Fyre: Felony and Emotion:
    3. The language of anger
    3.1 An elite emotional episode: the Warenne-Zouche Incident
    3.2 The history of law and emotion
    3.3 The language of anger
    3.4 Anger and the common law: an overview
    3.5 Passion in the plea rolls
    3.6 Melancholic felony in Gower's Tale of Canace and Machaire
    4. Cultural understandings of anger
    4.1 Anger and the judgment day
    4.2 Positive manifestations of the passion
    4.3 Anger in the confessional
    4.4. Slights, affronts, and provocations
    4.5 Anger, provocation, and the medieval English jury
    4.6 Conclusion to Part II
    Part III. Handlyng Synne: Guilt and Innocence:
    5. Confession and circumstantial inquiry
    5.1 Confessions of a horse thief
    5.2 A confessing society
    5.3 Inquiry into the circumstances
    5.4 The role of confession in felony adjudication
    6. Guilt assessment in medieval England
    6.1 Handlyng Synne and crime
    6.2 Sins of thought, speech, deed
    6.3 Rankings of sins and crimes
    6.4 Conclusion to Part III
    Part IV. Dies Iræ: Judge and Jury:
    7. Tales of judging
    7.1 The perils and prosaic nature of judging
    7.2 Pontius Pilate and deference to jury verdicts
    7.3 The misjudging of Christ and its resonance
    8. The mind and comportment of judge and jury
    8.1 Erkenwald and the Pagan judge
    8.2 Harsh justice tempered by mercy
    8.3 The proper comportment of those who judge
    8.4 Judicial states of mind
    8.5 Conclusion to Part IV
    Conclusion
    Looking back
    Looking forward
    Legal literacy and the medieval English jury
    Bibliography
    Index.

  • Author

    Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Harvard Law School, Massachusetts
    Elizabeth Papp Kamali is Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Massachusetts.

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