27 Law & Hist. Rev. 483 (2009)
Sanctuary and the Legal Topography of Pre-Reformation London

handle is hein.journals/lawhst27 and id is 507 raw text is: Sanctuary and the Legal Topography
of Pre-Reformation London
In early sixteenth-century England, the presence of ecclesiastical sanc-
tuaries in the legal, social, and religious landscape was a matter of great
controversy. Any English church could offer temporary sanctuary to an ac-
cused felon, a privilege that expired after about forty days, following which
the felon had to abjure the realm.' More contentiously, by the late Middle
Ages a number of English religious houses used their status as royally-
chartered liberties to offer sanctuary permanently, not only to accused
criminals, but also to debtors, alien craftsmen, and, especially during the
civil wars of the fifteenth century, political refugees.2 These ecclesiastical
1. See Krista Kesselring, Abjuration and its Demise: The Changing Face of Royal Justice
in the Tudor Period, Canadian Journal of History 34 (1999): 345-58; R. H. Helmholz, The
ius commune in England: Four Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 18-20.
2. On English law and sanctuary, see J. H. Baker, The English Law of Sanctuary, Ec-
clesiastical Law Journal 2 (1990): 8-13; Helmholz, Ius commune, 16-81. On permanent
sanctuary, see Isobel Thornley, Sanctuary in Medieval London, Journal of the British Ar-
chaeologicalAssociation 38 (1932-33): 293-315; Thornley, 'The Destruction of Sanctuary,
in Tudor Studies, edited by R. W. Seton-Watson (London: Longmans, Green, and Company,
1924), 182-207; Thomas John de' Mazzinghi, Sanctuaries (Stafford: Halden & Son, 1887),
http://www.archive.org/download/sanctuaries00dema/sanctuaries00dema (accessed Dec. 2,
2008); Norman MacLaren Trenholme, The Right of Sanctuary in England: A Study in Insti-
tutional History (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1903), http://www.archive.org/download/
rightofsanctuaryOOtrenrich/rightofsanctuary00trenrich (accessed Dec. 2, 2008); J. Charles
Cox, The Sanctuaries and Sanctuary Seekers of Mediaeval England (London: G. Allen and
Sons, 1911); E. W. Ives, Crime, Sanctuary, and Royal Authority under Henry VIII: The
Shannon McSheffrey is a professor in the History Department at Concordia Uni-
versity in Montreal <mcsheff@ alcor.concordia.ca>. Her thanks are due, for timely
comments and encouragement, to Eric Reiter, Kit French, Ian Forrest, Karl Shoe-
maker, Michael Wasser, and the anonymous reviewers for LHR.

Law and History Review Fall 2009, Vol. 27, No. 3
Q 2009 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

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