Actions against lawlessness in 1475
Crime and Punishment was an ongoing concern for monarchs and their counsellors throughout the middle ages. This was particularly the case when the country was recovering from periods of instability, such as revolts or in this case the 1469-71 phase of the Wars of the Roses. The following extract from the Croyland Chronicle explains how bad the situation had been and what actions against lawlessness Edward IV introduced to rectify the problem.
Described by the Croyland Chronicle.
Indeed, some persons immediately began to cavil at peace being thus concluded, but these soon received condign punishment for their presumption. Others, on their return home, betook themselves to theft and rapine, so that no road throughout England was left in a state of safety for either merchants or pilgrims.
Upon this, our lord the king was compelled, in person, together with his judges, to make a survey of the kingdom; and no one, not even his own domestic, did he spare, but instantly had him hanged, if he was found to be guilty of theft or murder. These rigorous sentences being universally carried into execution, public acts of robbery were soon put a stop to for a considerable time. However, if this prudent prince had not manfully put an end to this commencement of mischief, the number of people complaining of the unfair management of the resources of the kingdom, in consequence of such quantities of treasure being abstracted from the co£fers of each and uselessly consumed, would have increased to such a degree that no one could have said whose head, among the king’s advisers, was in safety: and the more especially those, who, induced by friendship for the French king or by his presents, had persuaded the king to make peace in manner previously mentioned.