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Crime and Sin in Early Medieval England

Hannah Purtymun

Vol. 3, No. 1

Summer 2021

Pages: 169-180

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2021.vol3.no1.08


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Hannah Purtymun, England, Medieval, Sin, Crime, Penitential, Ireland, Law Codes, Homicide

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Early medieval society had complex views of crime and sin. In early medieval English society, concepts of crime and sin overlapped to a certain extant in terms of what “wrongs” were under either religious or secular jurisdiction, or which fell under both. An in-depth analysis of the definition of crime versus sin in early medieval English society has not yet been undertaken, a feat that is attempted in this article in the context of one of the worst crimes and sins: homicide. It is found that a crime can be defined as any act that is performed against the protection of the king, while a sin is any action that falls within the confines of the capital sins or can be considered either an affront to God or detrimental to the soul.


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