Litigation and Political Conflict in Fifteenth-Century East Anglia: Conspiracy and Attaint Actions and Sir John Fastolf
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Arizona State University College of Law
Journal of Legal History, Vol. 27, pp. 53-80, April 2006
Sir John Fastolf was a wealthy fifteenth-century knight and a successful military commander in the wars with France. During the last decade of his life, he was involved in a number of legal disputes with his East Anglian adversaries, the supporters of the Duke of Suffolk. This paper studies one of those disputes, which involved conspiracy and attaint actions between John Andrew, a Suffolk adherent, and Thomas Howes and John Porter, two Fastolf servants.
This dispute is interesting for two reasons. Most importantly, it shows that one cannot fully understand the operation of the fifteenth-century legal system without an awareness of the social and political context of litigation. Some contemporary litigation had a clear political nature and political considerations influenced the resolution of legal issues. All aspects of this litigation illustrates the interrelation between the operation of the legal and political systems. Often, legal actions and institutions were vehicles and arenas for political disputes.
This litigation also offers an opportunity to explore some fifteenth-century legal issues, especially those that arose in attaint actions. There is very little existing scholarship on actions of attaint. This paper, by studying an actual attaint in detail, provides further detail on this area of medieval English legal history. The paper is based on numerous primary sources in the plea rolls and Year Books.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: Legal History, Law and Humanities
Date posted: July 25, 2006