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Level 5

5AAH2005 Crime & the Law, 1500-1750

Credit value: 30

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Joan Redmond 
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

N.B. This module cannot be taken in conjunction with 5AAH1027 Crime and Law in Early Modern England due to possible overlap of content.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This course examines the history of crime, disorder and law in early modern England between 1500 and 1750. It examines the social history of crime and punishment, focusing on the interaction between the law as an emerging tool of the state, and popular participation, cooperation and resistance. Early modern England offered a number of jurisdictions for people to pursue disputes and achieve justice, and these records are among the most valuable for social historians interested in questions not only of crime, but of social change, gender, class, politics and religion among others.

In this course we will examine a range of early modern crimes and misdemeanours, including theft, homicide, riot, treason, slander, sexual crimes and witchcraft. We will consider the range of responses available to the authorities, from severe punishment to mercy and discretion. The records left behind will be examined to question not only the history of crime, but of early modern England more generally. We will also explore themes such as the popular literature of crime, the relationship between morality (especially religion) and crime, and urbanisation.

This is a course primarily interested in social history and social questions, and not one explicitly focusing on legal history, though of course there are significant overlaps.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

J. Sharpe, Crime in Early Modern England (2nd edition, 1998)

M. Gaskill, Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England (2010)

G. Walker, Crime, Gender and Social Order in Early Modern England (2009)

J. Sharpe, A Fiery and Furious People: A History of Violence in England (2016)

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