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From Restoration to Retribution: Evolution in the Treatment of Wrongdoing in Early English Law c. 600A.D. to c.1135 A.D.

Rodger, Valerie Ann
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Thesis. Master of Arts in History, Department of History and Classics. University of Alberta.

In England, there was a gradual shift from restorative to retributive justice over the course of the Anglo-Saxon and early Norman period. For much of this period there were two approaches evident in the laws: to restore harmony through compensation and to punish offenders through retributive measures. The restorative aspect was gradually replaced by the retributive. Two factors are clearly indicated as major influences behind the shift in approaches to crime control. First is the impact of the Church, with its emphasis on punishment for moral wrongs; this is most apparent in the Penitentials. Second is the breakdown of traditional social control due to social disorders that weakened social bonds and increased centralization of political power. Traditional restorative justice had operated on a local level; as power was removed from this level to an increasingly distant king, it ceased to be seen as effective and so was replaced with retributive measures. (author’s abstract).


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