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Seeking SanctuaryCrime, Mercy, and Politics in English Courts, 1400-1550$
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Shannon McSheffrey

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198798149

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798149.001.0001

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Richard Southwell Flees to Sanctuary

(p.1) 1 Introduction
Seeking Sanctuary

Shannon McSheffrey

Oxford University Press

Although historians have until now thought that sanctuary in England had become moribund by the early sixteenth century, research in the legal records shows something different: although sanctuary-seeking was indeed infrequent from 1400 to about 1480, it began to increase substantially after that, reaching a peak around 1530 before collapsing, quite suddenly, in the later 1530s. This chapter both introduces the different forms of English sanctuary and explains in broad terms both why resort to sanctuary became more common under the early Tudors, and why it collapsed. This raises a number of themes that weave through the other chapters—mercy and redemption, Christian kingship, jurisdiction, prosecution of felony, and aristocratic honour culture.

Keywords:   sanctuary, law, crime, religion, Christian church, jurisdiction, space, politics, Middle Ages, early modern England

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