Book Review, nonfiction

Medieval Murder ~ Justice, Law Enforcement and Cross-County Networks

Pen & Sword Books 2020

Chapter 7

Have you ever wondered what a medieval trial was like?

Have you ever wondered if the stereotype of the corrupt sheriff was real?

If you’ve ever seen or read historical fiction where someone is framed or is facing a trial where the elites are clearly not going to be on their side, have you wondered if real life versions of these horrors might have occurred?

This chapter goes into more detail regarding the process of the trial and the individuals involved with it, but also the connections these people had to one another. It’s not surprising that Lady Maud and Sir Ralph were acquitted (not without some reservations, since they tried to get Lady Maud indicted again, but it wasn’t possible because a previous jury had acquitted her). The main players in the trial were connected with Lady Maud’s family, the Nevilles, and to Sir Ralph Paynell.

The chapter looks at examples of sheriffs stuck between and rock and a hard place when it came to prosecuting the local elite who were of greater social standing than they were, allegations of corruption, and the lists of men involved in the trial itself.

This latter part of the chapter covers the careers and backgrounds of several individuals belonging to both the knightly and emergent merchant classes, and how their connections to the people involved in the trial continued after 1375.

Hopefully, this chapter will provide a bit more context and nuance to the medieval trial process, and illuminate the shadowy figures in the sources a little more!


Buy the book: direct from the publisher in hardback or eBook format, or from Amazon [UK / US, etc] AppleKobo and other eBook retailers.


If you like medieval period and are a fan of true crime, like myself, this book is a perfect blend of both. This is a fascinating look at how a medieval murder mystery was investigated.

Author Melissa Julian-Jones presents the information in a clear and crisp fashion. She details who had the opportunity and motive to kill Sir William Cantilupe (who was murdered, his body discovered in a ditch) and who had the most to gain from his death.

You will see the main suspects in the case (Cantilupe’s wife, their servants, etc.) in this murder mystery through the eyes of a dedicated investigator who uses the available evidence to come to reasonable conclusions.

I also enjoyed the author’s discussion of similar cases.

Overall, this is an original and interesting book, worthy to grace your shelves. Highly recommended.

~ GoodReads Review

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