By Jean Dunbabin
Medieval imprisonment used to be no longer generally punitive. as an alternative, it used to be meant as a style of coercion, to exort ransom or revenge from a fellow aristocrat, to self-discipline individuals of a loved ones or to take away a deadly opponent. additionally, as Dunbabin's attention-grabbing research makes transparent, different types of captivity may differ to a unprecedented degree
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Extra info for Captivity and Imprisonment in Medieval Europe, 1000-1300 (Medieval Culture and Society)
But it is not just a matter of sources. The other reason for the increase in information is the building of more permanent and better-defended residences for aristocrats, the castles, which permitted easier and rather cheaper detention of peasants or knights. Consequently there was a real, not just a perceived, growth in the number of prisoners. The earliest descriptions of eleventh-century means of detention describe them in a very Hobbesian way as constraints on movement. They suggest that the simplest form of captivity consisted in chaining men to a beam or other heavy object which could not easily be moved.
Once in their enemy’s hands The Late Roman Legacy 29 they could then either be coerced into accepting conditions they would otherwise have rejected, or could be kept off the political stage, at least temporarily. In the crisis that followed on the election of Hugh Capet to the throne of West Francia in 987, two distinguished bishops, Arnoul, brother of the recently deceased King Louis V, whom Hugh agreed to elect to the archbishopric of Rheims to reconcile him to the Capetian succession, and Adalbéron, bishop of Laon, suffered imprisonment for short periods.
Burgesses began relentless and frequently successful battles to prevent lords’ jails being used for purposes of extortion or revenge. Louis VI’s charter for the men of Etampes in 1123 was typical of other charters of the period in laying down that the inhabitants of the town should not be arrested unless they were caught red-handed in committing a crime. 56 These examples illustrate a broader phenomenon so well known as to need only the briefest of mentions here, that of burgess power, more obviously visible in areas of relatively weak lordship, Italy, the Rhineland, southern France.