Not my area of expertise (again), but I do know that many types of criminal cases were handled in the Assize Courts, and action was often initiated on the basis of someone swearing a complaint. There was no regular police force prior to the early nineteenth century, so most "policing" was done by the populace itself. Person A showed up at court on the day when it met, swore out a complaint against Person B, and the sheriff or justice of the peace or other authorities summoned the person to court to face the charges (a vastly over-simplified explanation, but it's a starting point).I can think of two good books related to the topic, right off the top of my head:Laura Gowing, Domestic Dangers: Women, Words, and Sex in Early Modern London, which deals with women assaulting each other (or assaulting men) and ending up in court. It contains a good explanation of how people enforced domestic violence laws in the absence of a formal police force.Marjorie Keniston McIntosh, Controlling Misbehavior in England, 1300-1600, also deals with the subject, but does so across a much broader spectrum of legal offenses. Caution: the book is a bit dense and dry ... it is intended for academics, but you might still find it useful if your library can get it for you.
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