Sunday, August 05, 2007

Question from Barb - Elizabethan trials

I am trying to find some information about the proceedure in an Elizabethan Trial of a non Titled Person..
Who were the main players ?
Who asked the Questions, was there a Jury?
What would the proceedure have been?
What entitlements did the accused have?
Would they have been entitled to council?
Hope someone can help me as I am stuck for information...

Regards Barb


Anonymous said...

Look at Anne Somerset's Unnatural Murder. The book deals with two titled people on trial, but it also covers the many other non-titled people were also tried and convicted. Somerset gives a nice overview of the legal system for both titled and non, while also giving the specifics of each case.
--kate in miami

Anonymous said...

Anonymous' suggestion is a good one, but I'd like to add to it. One obvious question is what kind of crimes are you looking at? England had two separate court systems in the early modern period: secular and ecclesiastical. A surprising number of types of cases were actually tried in ecclesiastical church courts. Other crimes and many civil matters were tried in secular courts, but which court heard the case again depends on the kind of crime involved. The accused might be tried in a manor court, by a local justice of the peace, in a quarter sessions court, or in serious cases the issue might be remanded to London to the Court of King's Bench or Star Chamber. A good starting point would be "A Companion to Tudor Britain" edited by Robert Tittler and Norman Jones. Chapters 4 and 5 deal specifically with the law and law courts, but in only an introductory way. For specific details on ecclesiastical courts, you might try "Lower Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in Late Medieval England," edited by L.R. Poos, or "London Church Courts and Society on the Eve of the Reformation" by my friend Richard Wunderli. For secular courts, try "The Criminal Trial in Later Medieval England" by J.G. Bellamy; "The Law Courts of Medieval England" by Alan Harding; and especially "English Courts of Law" by H.G. Hanbury. Each of these should be available at a local university library. Most are out of print and cannot be found on Amazon. Good luck!