Sanctuary for sexual assault

On 12 March 1467, John Beauchamp of Lympstone, Devon, took sanctuary at St. Paul’s cathedral in London because eight years before he had assaulted, raped, and “deflowered” singlewoman Alice Perow with a knife. By the way, although in some circumstances in the 15th century (as Ruth Mazo Karras has shown), “singlewoman” came to be usedContinue reading “Sanctuary for sexual assault”

Sexual violence and vigilante justice

Late in Henry VII’s reign, sanctuary facilitated a victim’s vengeance on her rapist when the justice system itself would not likely have helped her. In 1508 jurors in Northamptonshire reported that Francis Aleyn, chaplain, “tempted by diabolical thoughts,” broke into John Wydevyll’s house at Old Stratford and raped Margaret Wylson. Following the assault, Wylson turnedContinue reading “Sexual violence and vigilante justice”

Child abduction and unmentionable crimes

In November 1510 a number of men abducted Richard Horsley from his mother’s house in Catton, Yorks, took him to a field, and gave him “several wounds from which blood flowed.” A month later Richard died from those wounds. The laconic records of his case suggest something horrific – even more horrific than the usualContinue reading “Child abduction and unmentionable crimes”