The role of amateur and professional judges in the royal courts of late medieval England
in Judicial tribunals in England and Europe, 1200–1700

This chapter provides an overview of the dynamics of the administration of justice in late medieval England and an insight into the judiciary at work. It offers a refocusing of the divergent historiographical trends, arguing against an artificial separation between 'central' and 'local' justice. The chapter interrogates the conventional notion of a dichotomy between the 'professional' element drawn from the central courts and the 'amateur' contingent recruited from the shires. The justices of the central courts played an equally important role in provincial justice through their presence on commissions of assize and gaol delivery and on ad hoc commissions of general and special oyer and terminer. The most useful and practical book for men of law involved in the administration of criminal justice was the anonymous Placita Corone, which gives instruction on how cases should be conducted at gaol delivery.

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