The Law of Maintenance and the Obligations Of Lordship: A Case Study
11 Pages Posted: 8 May 2013
Date Written: January 1, 2013
As part of continuing work on the law of maintenance, in The Law of Maintenance and the Obligations of Lordship: A Case Study, this paper focuses on two important legal and social norms in medieval disputing. Maintenance was a legal concept describing conduct that involved assisting or supporting the litigation of another person. Statutes prohibiting maintenance were an important weapon directed at misuse of the legal system, especially by powerful individuals and officials. Lordship was an important medieval social and political institution. ‘Good lordship’ meant that lords were supposed to protect and support their tenants, household members, and retainers in their litigation and other disputes. An interesting issue raised by the prohibitions on maintenance is their relationship to the obligations of lordship. To study the relation between lordship and maintenance, he focuses on the mid-15th century litigation involving the servants of Sir John Fastolf, a wealthy and well known 15th century knight. Despite what may appear to be a conflict between the prohibitions on maintenance and obligations of lordship, he concludes that it is doubtful whether the exercise of 'good lordship' was usually illegal maintenance.
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