The Mutual Pledge System & the Common Law
601 - 1500

When this era begins, society is moving from tribalism toward feudalism which takes permanent hold by the 8th century. In a feudal society, the masses provide service in exchange for land, protection, and justice from the nobility. Feudalism declines in the period between 1150 and 1500, and the administration of justice falls into the hands of kings, whose royal power is growing. After the Norman Conquest of 1066, we see the development of a trial and grand jury system, along with the origins of criminal procedure regarding fact-finding and evaluation of guilt or innocence. The first jails appear during this time, although they are holding areas, not punishment. With the rise of commerce and shifts to urban living, property crimes and interpersonal violence become increasingly prevalent.