Imprisonment in Medieval England

  • Publish Date: 2008-10-30
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Ralph B. Pugh
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This study traces the subject to the reign of Henry VIII. The author describes the location and analyses the types of prison buildings: county gaols, 'national' prisons (like the Fleet), franchise, municipal, 'bishops' and forest prisons. He also deals with the administration, staffing, repair and appearance of the buildings. Professor Pugh emphasizes that imprisonment was widely used as a punishment and was not wholly custodial and coercive; that the treatment of prisoners, if callous, was not intentionally cruel; and that the exaction of fees and lodging charges was not an 'abuse' but came to be the only way in which imprisonment could be made to work. These views correct prevailing misconceptions. The growth of imprisonment for debt and the system called 'benefit of clergy' are traced. Several chapters are devoted to escaping and its punitive consequences and to the trial of suspected felons. There is also some discussion of the imprisonment or monks within their monasteries.