Crime and Sin in Late Anglo-Saxon England


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2016-2017


This book investigates how crime and sin were understood in tenth- and eleventh-century England. In the late Anglo-Saxon period, royal law-codes prescribed punishments for both secular and religious offenses. This all-encompassing approach to governance has led scholars to conclude that authorities did not differentiate crime from sin before the 1066 Norman Conquest, when more sophisticated legal ideas replaced a nebulous category of “wrongdoing.” Crime and Sin in Late Anglo-Saxon England challenges this view by showing that Anglo-Saxon law was underpinned by a political ideology which charged kings with keeping both social and moral order. This project examines the diverse theories behind Anglo-Saxon legislation, considers legal responses to crime and sin, and offers new perspectives on early English judicial procedure.