By Jean Dunbabin
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Additional resources for Captivity and Imprisonment in Medieval Europe, C. 1000-C. 1300
72 All jurisdictions of the thirteenth century agreed with Hobbes that moral chains, exactly comparable with the physical chains found in prisons, could be created by citizens freely promising to accept some form of long-term restriction on their liberty. Therefore they devised a form of self-binding detention, described in some places as ‘open’ as opposed to ‘closed’ imprisonment. Of this, debtors were often the beneficiaries. For example, in a Venetian statute of 1242, it was laid down that persons cited for debt in the city should initially be confined for 30 days to the central district of Venice; they might not cross a bridge out of this area.
Therefore on the few occasions on which incarceration of those accused or convicted of crime did occur around 1000, it was on an ad hoc basis. Elsewhere in western Europe, the situation was similar. Justice was summarily dispensed by bishops, counts, viscounts, vicarii, or abbots of certain privileged monasteries, as indeed it continued to be in many places long after 1000. In a world in which most people lived in hamlets or villages, knew their neighbours well, only rarely met strangers or travellers, and looked to their neighbouring lords for chastisement of offenders and solutions to their quarrels, there was usually no occasion for delay in reaching a verdict or imposing a sentence in criminal matters.
Dudo declared that, after the murder of Richard’s father Duke William at the hands of Count Arnoul of Flanders, King Louis IV captured the young boy. The Normans raged indignantly at the royal act, while the King maintained that his aim had been to offer an education worthy of his station to the future prince. 56 Though the incident of the royal The Late Roman Legacy 31 abduction, followed by recapture by a faithful Norman noble was probably dramatized by Dudo, it does underline the vulnerability of aristocratic boys sent to be brought up at the courts of their lords; while they stood to gain influence and friendships there that could much advance their later careers, yet they were at the mercy of their hosts should bad feeling arise between them and their own families.