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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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Cheshire Feuds

Cheshire Feuds

Aristocratic Violence and the Uses of Sanctuary in the Reign of Henry VIII

(p.165) 7 Cheshire Feuds
Seeking Sanctuary

Shannon McSheffrey

Oxford University Press

Sanctuary grew under the early Tudor regime partly because of the privilege’s utility for those at the heart of the kingdom’s political circles, the landed elite. Sanctuary, paired with pardons or quashed indictments, figured prominently in aristocratic feud strategies, especially in the reign of Henry VIII. This allowed high status killers involved in political and honour-based quarrels not only to escape hanging but to reintegrate fully into the realm’s political life, as sheriffs, JPs, MPs, and so on. As those former seekers were subsequently appointed to influential political and legal office, moreover, the king and his advisors implicitly accepted sanctuary as an ideologically useful way to balance the crown’s need to prosecute all homicides with its desire to spare certain high-born killers.

Keywords:   sanctuary, crime, politics, aristocracy, honour, law

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