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The Lexical Prison: Impairment and Confinement in Medieval and Early Modern England.

In Crime and Insanity in England, volume 1: The Historical Perspective, the criminologist Nigel Walker states that 'in the history which extends from the tenth to the twentieth century, a minor problem is the choice of terms in which to refer to the various categories and types of mental disorders'. (1) Differing from Walker, I argue as a literary scholar that these often Latin clerical terms have a claim to be regarded as a major problem because they influenced the future treatment of the impaired, particularly, but not always, when they committed serious crimes. Some of these consequences were carceral--imprisonment, home detention, physical restraint--or social exile.

There is now a growing body of scholarship in premodern disability studies by historians, literary critics, and cultural studies practitioners. Alongside this trend, the field of medieval mental impairment and care has greatly advanced in its own right over the last few years. In the past, this topic was a side note in penal histories or consisted of a few pages in the short early chronological section in histories of medicine. Intellectual impairment is a category that the historian Irina Metzler, in a groundbreaking study of the medieval understanding of what modern medical and psychiatric practitioners term intellectual disability--a 'notoriously ambiguous conceptual category'--outlined the medieval counterparts and understandings of conditions such as autism, and the difficulties of uncovering narratives of cognitive intellectual disability in medieval sources. (2) The predominant interest of historians has been, Metzler claims, the 'more glamorous acquired madness rather than folly or idiocy'. (3) There is nothing 'glamorous' about cases of insanity that describe perplexing and incongruous motives and inexplicable behaviours of those deranged in thought and deed. Metzler's approach is to move away from the prurience that Bedlam, for example, generated for its early modern 'dark' tourists.

Additionally, Wendy J. Turner, a historian of medieval mental health and intellectual disabilities, has tackled the problem of definitions in her comprehensive analysis of terms used from 1200 to 1500 in English administrative records. (4) Turner collected and analysed 139 terms for mental impairment in criminal cases for their frequency of occurrence. She was able to demonstrate that the uses and meanings of words such as idiota and non compos mentis ebbed and flowed at different times. For example, in the early thirteenth century, administrative records that recorded adjudication about land favoured the term non compos mentis for those born with low intellectual ability. But by the 1270s the word idiota was used in approximately half of the cases about holdings that involved those born without comprehension. These non-medical descriptors were used as legal shorthand for the outcome of disputed land cases. A further striking finding Turner made is that beyond the division between innate and acquired impairment, descriptive terms for disorders featured active and passive elements (e.g.jhriosus--an agitated frenzy involving movement, sometimes with a fever). (5) Walker had suggested that the terms 'lunacy', 'insanity', 'idiocy', 'frenzy', 'madness', non compos mentis, and de non saine memoire were substitutable, and that 'it would be a mistake to relate any of them to some more precise subdivision of mental illness'. (6) Turner's research disrupts Walker's position that no precise subdivisions are possible in premodern terminologies of mental disorder. Likewise, the semantic imprecision that I highlight in my examples shows some of the problems that arise with too limited a range of descriptive terms. We can conclude that categories of congenital or acquired incapacity may appear simple but they are merely simplifications of what are in practice disorders of the mind and/or emotions that are less discretely defined in practice. (7)

Historians of disability, such as Turner and Metzler, have examined premodern records of once living persons. On the other hand, literary critics have examined fictional characters in literature who exhibit mental impairment, such as in Shakespeare's King Lear, Chretien de Troyes's late twelfth-century Yvain, or Dickens's Barnaby Rudge. (8) However, my method draws on concepts from cultural theories of labelling and stigma. Both of these theories argue that self-identity and social position are influenced by the terms, labels, or classifications assigned by communities. (9) While some sociologists, criminologists, and social historians dispute whether it is possible social factors are constitutive of mental impairment both now and in premodernity, current scholarly practice in premodern disability studies is to 'listen to what the texts have to tell us', as the literary critic Joshua Eyler, editor of the impressive Disability in the Middle Ages: Reconsiderations and Reverberations suggests. Although disciplinary boundaries consider that administrative historical records are non-literary, these records can be productively seen as cultural artefacts within a lexicon of impairment that reveals the impact of labels and terms we place on the impaired and on Disability Studies itself. (10) First, I will re-examine the definitions of medieval mental impairment through select cases in administrative records that are symptomatic of the semantic and actual difficulties communities faced when one of their members came to the attention of the courts due to mental disorder. Although we cannot be certain whether the cases are atypical, in need for legal clarification, or exemplary, they nevertheless pose interpretative dilemmas in some instances, and those dilemmas hinge on the equivocal lexicon of impairment. (11) Second, I examine tensions between the labelling of disorder and the carceral consequences for those who committed criminal acts or were prone to disruptive behaviour towards the community or themselves in states of mental impairment.The records for this research are valuable but incomplete sources. Kate Parkin argues, when writing about the Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, that the gaps in the records tell us as much as the details showing the process of thought and action in English courts. (12) But despite these records having their own problems of interpretation they, along with medical texts, are the only routes which allow us to navigate or glimpse what medieval people knew or understood about, or how they acted on, those thought to be mentally ill.

The administrative cases I present are all from writs issued in the Calendars. They are broadly chronological merely for convenience of the reader. This is not to imply that the cases and their vocabularies develop towards some zenith of greater care and understanding of the mentally impaired from medieval to early modern times. My goal is to present distinct records of individuals that highlight one significant point of terminology, that are symptomatic of the interpretative dilemmas that scholars face when encountering words used in ways that contradict their definitions, whether the sources be legal, religious, medical, or a combination of some of these categories.

I. Idiots, Lunatics, and Those with Lucid Intervals
Commission to Walter Clopton, Roger Mayngford and Robert Beymynstre, on
information that Lucy daughter and heir of Geoffrey atte Brigge is an
idiot, to bring her before them, examine whether she is non compos, and
since when, and if she has lucid intervals, and to certify their
proceedings into Chancery. (13)


A 1385 entry in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls (CPR) states that Lucy atte Brigge was 'an idiot'. Not only was Lucy an idiot but she was brought before by an escheator to a panel that consisted of people from her neighbourhood who knew her and her history to see if she was able to comprehend the proceedings and if not, whether she had spells of normal comprehension. The initial interpretative impulse in this example is to find the writ confusing and confused. Some background is necessary here. English law incorporated elements of Roman legal code, especially Justinian's Digest, for its descriptions of mental impairment, which distinguished between innate or acquired feeble-mindedness. The Prerogativa Regis of Edward II (probably a statement preserving customary practice) ensured those with natural (from birth, or sometimes, from baptism) or acquired impairment were subject to scrutiny if their property or goods were of concern. (14) The distinction was not legally enacted, as there were no writs of idiocy until Henry VIII set up the courts of wards. (15) The justification for this action was that a 'natural fool' (jatuus naturalis) or a person of unsound mind who may experience lucid intervals (non compos mentis, sicut quidam sunt per lucida intervalla) could not be allowed to alienate their lands and cause the disinheritance of families. (16) Birth or baptism were not medical diagnoses but both were important to provide the adjudicator with valuable information about duration of impairment and 'diagnosis'. An idiota was one with innate low intellectual function and this shone a light on how the court should proceed; the land and goods of those without full comprehension were treated differently from those with acquired mental impairment who enjoyed bouts of sane thinking. (17)

Most of the transactions in the English records where we find the mentally impaired are, in general, in formulaic language but as Turner has shown, the same terms were at times used for different conditions. She concluded that administrative clerks employed a wide-ranging lexicon to describe mental impairment, one that demonstrated an understanding of 'a continuum of mental disabilities' rather than either innate or acquired disabilities. (18) Returning to my example of Lucy atte Brigge, I ask was the administrative clerk confused about the terminology of innate and acquired disorder? It is assumed that if Lucy were an idiot, it would not be possible for her to enjoy lucid intervals or be fully compos mentis. This interpretative dilemma raises the question of whether an 'idiot' could also suffer from a concomitant periodic mental disorder such as furor. This fact is entirely possible although we cannot be certain from the record.

'Foolish' or insane: many cases such as that of Lucy atte Brigge show a non-differentiation or confusion between the two groups. (19) For example, a 1315 writ of inquisition was made on William de Lillebon, 'a lunatic, whose lands and tenements by reason of his idiotcy [sic] are in our hands', and having died, 'as we are told, we command you diligently to enquire what lands and tenements came to our hands by reason of his idiotcy, etc.' (20) The inquisitional testimony stated that William was a lunatic. Considering that the Crown treated the lands of the two groups differently (idiots' were more lucrative) these terms are puzzling, and unlikely to be substitutable as some have argued. In fact, Turner has contended that the word lunaticus was used relatively rarely and more usually in criminal cases, along with demens, amens, or nec bonum nec malum, or especially in active or agitated states such as frenesis. (21) These terms are indicative of the wide-ranging meanings attributed to criminals who are not culpable. Demens and amens appear to be medical terms, as is frenesis (frenzy). For medieval people, the latter word depicted frantic, feverish activity, and suggests a state of fury or rage. Not knowing the difference between good and evil did not refer to the person's physical state but aligned the person with the legal status of a child, althoughfuror may have imposed a temporary lack of moral compass.

Although, by definition, an idiocy verdict should have been the last word, as we saw in the writs of Lucy atte Brigge and William de Lillebon, it was not necessarily so. There is a tangled semantic web of words such as 'idiot', 'lunatic', fatuus, stultus, mente captus, non compos mentis, lucida intervalla, that is not resolved by appeals to the written record. Nevertheless, some individuals, though not many, were summoned to Westminster to be personally examined by the king to prove themselves of sound mind. One of these was Lucy atte Brigge over a year before her examination before Walter Clopton and others.
Appointment, by mainprise of John Perle and John Dracy, of the county
of Dorset, of Roger Juyot to the custody, during her idiocy, of the
lands of Lucy, daughter and heir of Geoffrey atte Brigge, in
Whitchirche in that county, held of the heir of Edmund de Mortuo Mari,
late earl of March, tenant in chief, who, by inquisition of John
Pokeswell, escheator, and by examination before the king in Chancery,
was not found to be an idiot from birth, yet by the examination of her
personally in Chancery is found to be one now.' (22)


Lucy atte Brigge was thought be an idiot, but was found to not be an idiot, but then was declared before the King to be an idiot again. One possible interpretation for this phenomenon is that Lucy suffered a passive or catatonic-like mental disorder that resembled low intellectual functioning. A further observation is that if the term 'idiot' could be instated, removed, then reinstated, the court was demonstrating its ability to be flexible towards its subjects, but what confuses is that idiocy is meant to be a condition 'from birth'. Lucy's state is difficult to determine for modern readers but the medieval terminology did not allow for a subtler description of her fluctuating condition or conditions.

A third example that shows a mismatch between idiocy and impairment acquired later in life is John, son of John Herdewyk. In 1421, John was labelled in the Calendar of Patent Rolls as an idiot from birth, yet his idiocy could not be verified so 'it was decided that John was of sound mind and not an idiot and he was dismissed'. (23) This fluidity and substitution of idiocy as non-recoverable and lunacy as recoverable is found in several examples in the records so it is difficult to know what being an idiot from birth can mean when the person is asked if they have any lucid intervals. (24) As a fourth example, consider also the case of John de Heton (1354), who was summoned to Doncaster under a writ of plenius certiorari (to be more fully informed) for an inquisition before a jury panel to ascertain whether he was an idiot or not. John's examination tells that he had enjoyed good health until he was twenty-four years old, since which time he
has been continuously an idiot, insensible to his surroundings (non
compos mentis sue in omnibus que ad humanum sensum discerni deberet),
having a fancy in his head, whereby he remains unconscious of his own
personality (bone memorie sui ipsius negligens) and paying no heed to
anything at all. He enjoys no lucid intervals. (25)


John de Heton lost the abilities to discern his own surroundings and a sense of himself. We cannot be definitive, but this may be another case of severe mental disorder that mimicked low mental function. Or, either the terms were substitutable for this clerk, or there was some confusion about John de Heton's condition for the jury panel.

Although procedures for identifying idiots and lunatics and the king's rights were relatively clear, even though they appear confused in process, there was far less clarity on what constituted insanity and this had an impact on how criminal cases were decided, in some instances. Bracton claimed in the thirteenth century that a crime did not occur unless voluntas nocendi was present, that is, 'the will to do harm'. (26) But this does not seem to apply to those suffering mental incapacity in general, although by the early fifteenth century, suicide committed in a 'fit of madness' was investigated as to whether it was committed with malice or without reason. This appears to have been a development of Bracton's view and possibly had repercussions for the disposal of the property of the deceased.

II. Crime, Incarceration and the Insanity Defence

Turning to criminal cases, an informal insanity defence was invoked for homicides committed while mentally impaired. Similar words for impairment are used in these cases but there is a preponderance of active words, such as juriosus. One case illustrates succinctly the issues involved in ascertaining the care of some mentally impaired persons. A 14 May 1310 entry in the Calendar of the Patent Rolls pardons a Robert Angot for the death of Thomas de Ryston and William Maille. (27) The justices of gaol delivery for Norwich recorded that 'it appears [...] he is a lunatic'. Incongruously, the record of the homicides in question states that they occurred 'on the 3 December 1316'. Angot's parents and aunt testified that he was prone to insanity for over twenty years during the waxing of the moon. His family had hired Thomas de Ryston to care for Angot, who was physically bound and confined. It was reported that during the waxing of the moon, Angot got a knife and stabbed Thomas in the hand. William Maille, a neighbour, heard the cries, tried to intervene but was stabbed in the heart. Angot then beat Thomas de Ryston on the testicles until he (Thomas) died. (28)

The account of the killing of William and the torture and killing of Thomas provides the key elements regarding the treatment of and understanding about those who were mentally impaired and who committed crime in medieval England. It also raises important considerations about how we might interpret records, archives, and rolls that are, in many instances and as the above example shows, unreliable. The dates of the pardon and of the event to be pardoned are six years apart and, curiously, the pardon precedes the crime. Placing the incongruous dating aside, the case suggests that criminal culpability for killing was pardonable in the case of insanity. (29) Lunaticus was the most common term used for those committing crime. Robert's pardon occurred after a period in Norwich gaol. (30) As stated above, a case such as Robert's could not go to court as Robert would not be able to plead, not being compos mentis at the time of the murder. The only person who could rescind a label of insanity was the individual themselves, who would never have been placed on trial in the first place. (31) The family explained his aberrant behaviour in medical/astrological terms (the waxing of the moon). (32) Lunations, though, were cyclical episodes and it is possible that Robert may have enjoyed some intermittent well periods. Being in a state of lunacy, Robert Angot was imprisoned by and in the community: he was confined and bound, likely with rope or irons by someone hired by his family to care for and supervise him. We do not know where but we can assume it was in the home. We do not know whether the record that specified Thomas de Ryston's beaten body parts was meant to strengthen the claim that Robert was insane at the time of his actions. Nevertheless, these preventative measures failed to avert the crime.

Robert was exonerated on the grounds of lunacy as it was presumed he did not know that what he did was wrong. (33) It did not follow that being lunatic he knew nec bonum nec malum, but in this instance both applied, as does the inference that he could enjoy periods of better mental health. He was obviously in a state of jrenesis when he beat Thomas, which suggests that he was suffering fevered agitation. Strengthening his claim to non-prosecution, Robert satisfied all criteria for a pardon: he was termed lunaticus; he did not know right from wrong; and he had a pattern over twenty years of being disordered at the waxing of the moon. These standard attributions of nonculpability are not of the same cultural domain. They point to languages that belong to medical, moral/religious, and legal lexicons.

The idea that criminal guilt does not apply to the insane has a long history and as we saw in the previous example, crosses over into medicine as much as law. Nevertheless, in Robert's case, the appeal to a medieval medical cause, the waxing of the moon, is a reminder of how these cases unfold in modernity, where the medical field through psychiatry dominates criminal court determinations about accountability for fitness to plead. By contrast, Barbara Hanawalt suggests that stories of pleas of insanity in homicide cases 'seem to ring true to modern audiences'. (34) Hanawalt's example, like mine, is of Robert Angot's homicides. Her position is clear in that these accounts of insanity have a modern resonance--but whether it is the account of homicide that rings true, or the narrative of the insane person's unfathomable actions that lead to homicide, we cannot be certain. My emphasis has been on the condition that led to, and the conditions of, Robert's incarceration, but the reading of this case raises more questions than answers. Many details are murky; we are left with sketchy details of Robert's mental state and treatment, and an aftermath of two dead bodies.

Another writ that illustrates different terms for insanity is found in the Calendar of the Close Rolls of November 1370, ordering the bailiffs of Lincoln to deliver the goods and chattels ofWilliam Belle as the king has full information that William 'being mad in his madness at Lincoln slew John Geppe of Axay otherwise called John Belle'. The forfeited property was to be restored to the hands of John de Holt of Northamptonshire and Walter of Askeby of Lincolnshire as 'madmen committing crimes in their madness ought not by law to undergo the extreme penalty nor forfeit their goods and chattels'. (35) The phrase 'mad in his madness' does suggest a background of continuing madness with another layer of frenzied behaviour added. John and Walter assured the king that when William recovered he could 'answer to the king or any fit person concerning the goods and chattels so seized, over and above his reasonable maintenance'. Edward III's view is clear on insanity here but in the Rolls and Calendars there are a great number of people being exonerated of homicide on the grounds of self-defence or accidental death (the 'they accidently fell on my knife' explanation), or as in Robert de Herthal's defence for the killing of Roger son of Swein, which was that Roger had killed five people while insane (per insaniam ). (36) The idea that Robert was threatened by someone in poor health, who might include him in the list of those killed, is justification for Robert's pardon.

We have seen that lunation is thought to cause madness but in the following thirteenth-century example the summer heat is cited as a possible cause of a reoccurrence of ill health. The Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery) reports that Richard of Cheddestan killed his immediate family--a wife and two children--and then tried to hang himself. Richard committed these acts 'in a frenzy and that he is subject to it'. His own death was prevented by the intervention of his neighbours. He was 'wretchedly detained' in Norwich prison for six years after these events until the king enquired whether he was restored to his former soundness of mind or whether it would be dangerous to free him. Illustratively of medieval medical insight, the record continues that 'Richard is at present sufficiently sensible (satis mature modo se habet), but it cannot be said that he is so far restored to sanity as to be set free without danger, especially in the heat of summer'. (37) The moon and the heat are both ideas stemming from the causes of disease within medieval medical texts that imply environmental impacts on health. But even though Richard could not be held culpable for his crimes, as they were committed during a frenzied sickness, in practice he was incarcerated indefinitely even though seemingly restored to some equilibrium after six years. In law, medieval people judged serious crime using ideas from medieval medicine to attempt to explain the causes and reasons for homicidal actions.

Not all cases of insanity were as extreme as Robert Angot's or Richard of Cheddestan's, although many were pardoned because their crimes were committed in a fit of madness or being furiosus. (38) In Worcester, a Richard Brent confessed to being a thief but was not believed by the jury as he possibly stole a fowl 'in his madness at a time when he was lunatic'. (39) Richard, it seems, was considered harmless and free to roam the village. Local knowledge of his history ensured that the community would not allow him to pay for a crime that he did commit but could not be responsible for. This decision is based on a knowledge of Richard's history by a jury of people who knew him well.

In 1342, an inquisition took place at the Tower of London, to certify whether William Lulleman, a chaplain, 'who pretends to be deaf' and has been admitted to the king's hospital of Neuton, is sometimes lunatic and mad. William disturbed the peace among the members of the hospital, threatening them and their pet bird, 'poor cormorant'. In other words, the hospital wanted to remove William from the surrounds due to his troublesome behaviour. (40) If the commission decided he was insane it is unclear where he would be placed after the hospital. William's admission to the hospital suggests he needed to be removed from his chaplaincy but even the hospital found his actions extreme, which resulted in his social exile. These examples show that lunacy was applied more to persons who had committed crime than to those who needed their property protected.

Nor can we completely trust the testimony of those who judged some of these cases. In a thirteenth-century case, Simon of Fenstanton had been declared insane by an inquisition writ executed to find reliable relatives to administer his land and care for him. His son Robert of Fenstanton and other sons claimed that Simon escaped from them and sold part of his property to another party. Robert formally objected to the sale as he and the other members of the family had been holding Simon in chains so that he could not mismanage his properties. After investigating Simon, several officials with the interests of the purchaser of the sold land attested that Simon was in irons but seemed to be of sound mind and good memory, and so should have full custody of his assets. By way of appeal, Robert claimed that Simon was many times, 'naked and girt with a sword, [and] visited the ladies of the country and did many other things such as those so afflicted do'. Neither Robert's objections nor that of the King's attorney were considered relevant by the judge, William de Saham, and the decision carried in favour of the purchaser of the land. Although we have no hard evidence, it is entirely possible that the land purchaser and the judge were happy to co-operate and deprive Simon's family of his goods. (41) This record illustrates my argument about the instability of descriptive language used to judge the mentally impaired. It also raises the possibility of abuse of the law. Simon's behaviour was disruptive but the record implies that he is chained to curtail his inappropriate actions, including wandering into spaces not his own, being inappropriately undressed, and threatening social mores. That he could be of sound mind and memory at the same time as he engaged in repetitive predatory roaming does seem at odds with his home detention. There is also a semantic gap in the phrase that he did 'other things such as those so afflicted do'. This phrase indicates a general consensus about what constitutes aberrant behaviour, but it is imprecise in its definition of Simon's particular state of ill-health except to translate his actions into mental impairment. The 'such as those so afflicted do' is again a type of social abbreviation for an anticipated range of actions that was commonly believed to be irregular.

By contrast, some medieval decisions meant that the ill were not confined. For example, an order to the mayor and bailiffs of the town of New Sarum in 1380 released William Webbe of Salisbury, 'imprisoned upon suspicion of piracy and adhering to the king's enemies of France' as 'he is a wandering idiot, at times raving mad, so that he could do the said enemies no aid or favour'. (42) The words of the Prerogativa Regis did not cover the complexity of real life, and judging from my symptomatic examples there is much confusion as to whether the status of those charged with idiocy and also lunacy is fixed.

In summary, knowledge that medieval people had about the causes and cures of mental impairment played out not only in legal arenas but in religious, and medical systems, such as the heat, and lunations. Whereas legal typology differentiated crudely between cognitive or emotional states (furiosus, for example) within the two categories of intellectual disability and insanity, medieval medicine and theology were much more accommodating about layers of impairment. (43)

III. Religion, Restraints and Relics

We now turn to thaumaturgic cures that involved insanity and restraint.In religious texts, some of the carceral terms apply to pious experience and practice, as a religious precedent exists for the use of force for spiritual or bodily cure. The early fifteenth-century book of Margery Kempe's spiritual struggles, secular life and reach for piety on pilgrimage draws a harrowing picture of her emotional instability and hallucinatory torment after the birth of her child. 'And also sche roof her skyn on hir body ayen hir hert wyth hir nayles spetowsly, for sche had noon other instrumentys, and wers sche wold a don, saf sche was bowndyn and kept wyth strength both day and nyght that sche might not have hir wylle.' (44) Margery was forcibly restrained because she was tearing her body to pieces. Scholars of Margery have entertained theories about possible post-partum psychosis but rather than labelling herself, this literary account of Margery's state provides a retrospective glimpse into the mental impulse to harm herself and the use of restraints to prevent it.

In The Life and Miracles of St Thomas of Canterbury, 'mad Henry of Fordwich' was dragged with his hands tied behind him, shouting and struggling, to the tomb of St Thomas. He remained there all day and night and in the morning returned home 'perfectly well in his mind'. (45) The same applied to Matilda of Cologne, who nearly choked a boy to death in a rage. Matilda was chained 'near the martyr' for several hours until she began to recover. (46) 'Mad' Mary of Rouen was also dragged in chains to Becket's tomb: 'we afterwards sent a messenger to her to make sure of her liberation [from madness]' writes Benedict of Peterborough. (47) The above examples imply that bodily ill-health can be remedied by being in the proximity of a sacred object (relic, martyr's tomb). Nevertheless, John Bromyard, the fourteenth-century preacher famous for his comprehensive sermon books, weighs into infirmity as sin, but here the use of chains is untenable, as those bodily and/or spiritually infirm are unable to be contained by fetters:
Sicut patet primo de superbis, quorum infirmitas phreniticis
assimilatur, atque daemoniacis, qui nullis subesse pro posse volunt,
vel vinculis teneri. Sed omnes in circuitu molestant, et vexant, de
quibus Isaiah 24. Infirmata est altitudo virorum, et terra interfecta
est ab habitatoribus suis. (48)
(And as it is clear first, concerning the prideful, the illness of whom
is compared to the delirious or those possessed by demons, who
according to their power are able to be under no one, or to be held by
chains. But they bother and annoy everyone in their path, from which
Isaiah 24: The profundity of man is infirm and the world is destroyed
by its inhabitants.)


Phreniticis and daemoniacis could refer to fever-induced delirium and diabolic possession as much as insanity. Again, the multiple use and meaning of terms about mental impairment slides into terms of spiritual impairment, as much as frenesis made its way into legal language. Despite religious exemplars of enforced cure by physical restraint and the proximity to a saint's relics for cure, these views did not hold sway in the records of process, where the mention of biblical texts or Christian doctrine is completely absent.

To reiterate, the care of the mentally impaired hinged often on the language used to define them. The evidence of those who were deemed idiots but then had their appeal upheld or the insane whose lucid interval ensured their recovery of land, or the king's decision to coin someone an idiot even though they did not agree--suggest that the law and language locked some persons in a prison house of lexical constraints, difficult to unpick. Although the inquisitorial jury recognized that a person with acquired impairment, such as insanity, could regain their health, the lexis of law ensured that this recovery was conceptually provisional through its preferred term for restoration of the ability to manage one's affairs: lucida intervalla. Justinian's Digest uses the words si furiosus intermissum habet to describe those furiosi who could make a last will and testament. (49) This specified some sort of interruption, or gap, or cessation of the impaired state, but most Latin texts and translations into English from the fourteenth century use 'lucid interval'. The lucid interval operates through request: that others trust and believe that a person is recovered yet are prepared to notice change as relapse. But the idea of the lucid interval is perplexing to apprehend. Shoshana Felman writes, 'How can we know where reason stops and madness begins, since both involve the pursuit of some form of reason?'. (50) Further, the word 'interval'--a word that defines a space between two points--came to bear on a doctrine of the sixteenth-century canonist Josephus Mascardus. His tenet that 'insanity is presumed to endure; therefore, when anyone is proven to have been insane, he who claims such a one is now sane must prove it' was expanded in later centuries in Littleton's doctrine of 'non-stultification', that a person 'shall not by his plea be permitted to disable his own person'. (51)

It is curious that the records do not include spiritual observations when describing the impaired. Whereas modernity sees health as the norm, premodern communities in England reached towards a state of good health that meant not only humoral balance but spiritual balance. It could be argued that within a Christian context, nearly all medieval people would have believed that life was a pilgrimage towards a higher goal, that humankind was tainted by the betrayal in the Garden of Eden, and that spiritual ill-health was the normal mode. In that context, prayer, ritual practice of the liturgy, and salvific deeds were chances to prepare for the spiritual future as one needed to prepare to die. In a spiritual sense, moments of grace were lucid intervals.

IV. Medicine, Moods and Mixtures

In medicine, the mentally impaired were described with some subtlety with the aim to diagnose and hopefully cure them. Some ideas about the possible causes of and remedies for disease are found in Greek, Roman, and Arabic interpretations of the aetiology of maladies that came into English circulation. How far these ideas infiltrated and influenced administrative judgement is uncertain but some, at least, were thought relevant to future management of the unwell as we saw in the instances where the waxing moon or the summer heat were thought to exacerbate mental conditions. John Trevisa's English translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus's De re proprietatibus, drawing on Platearius and Constantinus Africanus, attributes mental disorders to an imbalance of humours and/or the physiology of the cranium. (52) In his section on the head, he classifies diseases of the brain as jrenese, amencia, stupore et litargia. The first two are found in administrative records but unlike in the records, here they are precisely defined based on characteristic behaviours and emotions. Of these, 'amencia and madness is al one. (53) Bartholomaeus describes madness as an infection of the further cell of the head that deprives one of 'ymaginacioun'. Melancholy, on the other hand, is an infection of the middle cell of the brain that deprives one of reason. Further, melancholia and mania can be caused by the consumption of food and drink that stimulate an imbalance of humours, or from too much study, or the poisonous bite of a mad dog, or inhaling pestilent air. The remedy for the agitated person, who sometimes cries, leaps up, or 'hurtib and woundib hemself and o[THORN]ir men, and lotieb and hadib hemsilf in pri[u]ey place and hidelis' is this: '[THORN]e medicines of hem is bat he be ibounde bat bey hurte not hemsilf and opir men' (my emphasis). (54) The frenetic also should be 'wel iholde obir ybounde in a derk place' (my emphasis) where he can be 'be stille and in scilence'. (55) This points to a precedent for the caring physical restraint of the either temporarily or permanently insane. The intent of the binding, in these writings, is clearly to prevent harm to the person by their own hand or to others.

The thirteenth-century physician Gilbertus Anglicus described four main sicknesses of the head: frenzy, mania, lethargy and epilepsy. Gilbertus recommended many detailed and practical concoctions to ease the symptoms of these disorders. (56) The behavioural characteristics of the insane are sudden 'rising up' or sudden 'falling down', a lack of wit, wanting to fight or threaten others. (57) Among the many herbal ointments recommended, and treatments such as rubbing the feet with vinegar, wine and salt, or shaving the head and placing a poultice of herbs on the skull, Gilbertus advocates placing a recently eviscerated puppy, still warm, on the forehead. (58) His medical compendium is impressive enough, but he also includes cures, such as listening to music, or walking about in rivers, fields and gardens, and being with 'compeny and myrbe'. (59) Many of the illnesses described in Gilbertus's work also appear in the Coroners' Rolls: among them non compos mentis or insanity in two cases of suicide. (60)
Loquendum cum Rege de quodam stulto qui est in prisona eo quod per
demenciam cognovit se esse latronem sed non est culpabilis. (61)
(The king is to be consulted about an insane man who is in prison
because in his madness he confesses himself a thief, while really he is
not guilty.) (62)
(The king must be consulted about an idiot who is in prison because in
his witlessness he confessed that he is a thief, although in fact he is
not to blame.) (63)


This early thirteenth-century example raises further questions about terminology. The first English translation is by Frederic Maitland, the second by Nigel Walker. Maitland has chosen to translate 'de quodam stulto' as 'about an insane man' whereas Walker uses the word 'idiot'. This might alert readers to some of the difficulties about definitions in modern records.Walker appears accurate by interpreting 'de quodam stulto' as 'about an idiot'. If one read the Maitland account, an inaccurate picture of the prisoner would ensue. Nevetheless, whether insane or foolish, this man was confined for a theft that he either did but was not to blame, or he falsely admitted to but was still not to blame for that falsehood.

The majority of those with mental impairment did not come to court. The idea that they were safely ensconced in the care of immediate family, relatives, and community persisted into the eighteenth century. (64) This notion may have come from the 1155 laws of Henry I, who suggested that parents should keep those who are insanos and maleficos with mercy. (65)
Si quis a nativitate surdus et mutus sit, ut sua vel alterius nequeat
interrogata confiteri, emendet pater ejus forisfacta sua. / Insanos et
ejusmodi maleficos debent parentes sui misericorditer custodire. (66)
(If he is from birth deaf and dumb, so that he is not able to confess
either his own indictments or those of another, let his father supply
the debt. The insane and wrong-doers of such kind should be kept by
their parents with mercy.)


In these lines, we also veer towards the idea that families needed to 'keep' those who were impaired. 'Keep' would become 'care', and that implied necessities such as nourishment and shelter but also compassion 'with mercy'. But 'keep' would also be 'keep apart', and sometimes imprisonment was justified on the grounds it prevented the impaired person/s from doing harm to themselves or others. However, we know little about the daily and practical care of, or the experience of, those who were considered mentally impaired in medieval and early modern England. The evidence we have is, of necessity, subtended by legal and administrative contexts which were the end chain of official process. What we do know is that there was a felt need for formal care places for some mentally impaired persons whose families could not care for them. In England the first of these that we know of was Bethlem hospital (Bedlam). This facility did not house all those who needed formal care. Founded as St Mary of Bethlehem priory in London in 1247, in the early fifteenth century its patients numbered six men, who were described as mente capti. (67) Of more interest for my argument that the criminal and the carceral collide in cases of insanity, is a Bethlehem inventory of 1403 that listed four pairs of manacles, eleven chains, six locks, and two pairs of stocks; instruments more often associated with crime and its punishment rather than the restraint of the insane (although they may not have all been used on those mente capti). (68) Bethlehem was not the only place that cared for the insane; the chaplain Robert de Denton applied to found a hospital for lunatics in his messuage in the parish of All Hallows Barking, between 1370 and 1371. (69) In the early fifteenth century, places for such care were found in Valencia and other parts of the Iberian Peninsula, and in s'Hertogenbosch, in northern Brabant; Charenton Asylum in Paris opened in the early seventeenth century. (70)

Early modern records of mental impairment are many, but I concentrate on two that are symptomatic of differences and continuities in terminology and their outcomes. In the sixteenth century, Sir Thomas More tells of a madman who was a former inmate of Bedlam who disrupted church services by making 'many madde toyes and tryfles'. More had the man bound to a tree and whipped before the whole town, the better to beat home the point about remembering to keep quiet in church. (71) We cannot know if this attitude was typical of treatment of the insane or mentally impaired by the sixteenth century, but that More was able to tell it suggests that it was thought acceptable. This is two hundred years after the institution of Bethlem hospital and, at this point, we see the use of physical restraint and public and corporal punishment on someone who was unwell but who has committed an 'offence' in a church, which may have had some bearing on the punishment. The 'madman' had been in formal care, but was freed and allowed to wander at will as long as he did not upset the community.

At the end of the seventeenth century, Ann Bowman petitioned for money and help to assist her with the care of her eldest son, Abraham. He, 'being distracted', had been 'bound in chains'. The parish had provided a keeper to guard him in the family home. Abraham convinced the keeper that he was enjoying a lucid interval; the keeper believed him and 'knokt off his fetters and sett him at liberty upon which he distractedly ran into the woods where he lay a fortnight'. He had wandered into Westmorland and 'not being capable of giving any account of himself', was committed to the county gaol at Appleby, where he was forced to lie 'among the felons in great misery and want'. (72) The parishioners variously described him as 'melancolly' and 'lunatic' in 1694 and 1697 respectively. (73) This illustrates how important the ability to narrate one's own history was for the unwell. Because Abraham could not give an account of himself, he was gaoled.

Although the case of Ann Bowman has interested social historians for its illustration of Poor Law and chronic poverty, the care of Ann Bowman's son was a cause of some of Bowman's petitions. (74) Seventeenth-century quarter-sessions provide many examples of families tying up their mentally-ill relatives or hiring a keeper to look out for them, presumably while the other members worked outside the home. (75) But only those who had enough money to pay for keepers for their unwell relatives would have been in this situation. Those families who did not have funds to hire a carer sometimes petitioned the court for an allowance to help with basic care, as many of the impaired were unable to work. (76) By the seventeenth century, some families (like Ann Bowman's) were obliged to apply for Poor Relief to help with the payment of carers. One man hired three men to care for and guard his distracted son. Another was handed to the Justices by their spouse as 'hee lyinge bound in Cheanes and ffeathers' had shouting fits day and night. (77) Even with the economic means to care for one's relative, brutal home detention did not alleviate the trouble that the impaired person could create in the community.

The language concerning the mentally ill changes to a less medical and more punitive tone in the early modern period. The English barrister John Tracy Atkyns, relying on the writings of Matthew Hale (jurist) and William Hawkins (sergeant-at-law), places a caveat on the type of lunatic that requires incarceration as 'care'. Those who commit outrages are to be
apprehended and kept safely locked up in some secure place within the
county, or [...] Parish or place shall lie [...]. And (if such justices
find it necessary) to be there chained [...]. Then such dangerous
lunatick shall be sent to the last legal settlement by pass (mutatis
mutandis) [...]. And shall be locked up or chained by warrant of two
justices of the court to which such person is so sent. (78)


Hawkins employs the Statutes of George II--Justices Commitment Act 1743--to authorize section 4, 'Of persons who may be guilty' but adds in parentheses '(which seems agreeable to the ancient common law)'. This last sentence authorizes current arrangements by recourse to the past--to the Prerogativa Regis of Edward II--but it adds to the idea of 'care' with physical chains to be used on those who are seen as out of place or out of their place. Hawkins, quoting Atkyns, qualifies those who are to be cared for: vagrant lunatics 'strolling up and down the country'. This proviso exempts persons who 'are of rank and condition in the world and whose relations can take care of them properly, by applying to this court, as is usual in cases of lunacy'. (79) If there were doubt whether a person was a criminal who appeared to be lunatic at trial, it was tried by an inquest of office, and if found that 'the party feigns himself mad' and he still refuse to answer, he shall be dealt with as one that stands mute'. (80) But, we find a similar idea concerning social status running through some cases in early medieval records. In 1346, a Roger Gough who had committed several homicides while in 'a state of frenzy' was to be moved from Shrewsbury castle on the petition of his brother to 'some more honourable place'. (81) Roger might be pardoned of murder while in a state of frenzy but his relocation from the castle prison infers that the prison is shameful, and that his brother wishes him to be more comfortable, perhaps commensurate with his economic or community standing.

Many of the above cases involve physical restraint and confinement; the early modern period is much more explicit about restraint and also carries a sense that the 'lunatic' is someone who requires chastisement. The understanding that the insane person was ill also included the understanding that the person was bad for disrupting the community. Physical restraint appears to be a known and practised last resort for families and parishes faced with those people who being mentally ill were perceived as a danger to themselves or to others, or in common parlance, who 'will not be ruled', coined by the sixteenth-century physician Richard Napier. (82)

A. Fessler's investigation of the quarter-sessions in seventeenth-century England demonstrates the recourse to harsh treatment that included beating, confinement, and threats. (83) Within specific pleadings witnesses were obligated to give more information than the bald statements we find in medieval administrative processes. The nature and circumstances were often explained in some detail, although these explanations were often folded into stories of extreme poverty. The seventeenth-century jurist Matthew Hale, in his posthumous Historia Placitorum Coronae, first published in 1736, is illuminating about the understanding of some causes of lunacy. (84) His concern was the application of the law, but like Hawkins, and Atkyns, he distinguished idiocy from lunacy and madness. (85) Lunacy was intermittent madness or 'accidental or adventitious dementia' in Hale's term, whereas insanity was 'perfect madness'. Permanent dementia is phrenesis or manifest madness; partial insanity is termed lunacy:
for the moon hath a great influence in all diseases of the brain,
especially in this kind of dementia; such persons commonly in the full
and change of the moon, especially about the equinoxes and summer
solstice, are usually in the height of their distemper. (86)


He continues to explain that between the full and change of the moon such lunatics have a competent use of reason; therefore crimes committed between the moon changes are punishable. Hale's medical understanding of mental impairment does not depart from the medieval texts of the Franciscan Bartholomaeus Anglicus (c. 1245)--which entered the early modern period as Stephen Batman's Batman vppon Bartholome, his booke De proprietatibus rerum--or those of doctor and pharmacist Gilbertus Anglicus (c. 1230-1250). (87)

As the historical trajectory of madness with incarceration unfolds, it is clear that the explanatory paradigms of impairment are categorized into ever more defined and refined sets and subsets of meaning. Language and the terms to describe mental impairment in medieval and early modern England display semantic drift to the extent that currently, the terms 'lunatic', 'imbecile', 'fatuous', 'stupid', and 'idiot' are associated with insult, and are not used in medical or legal arenas. There is also some solidifying of terms, for example non compos mentis persists in law in its sense and form as 'incompetent' in cases of testamentary aptitude. (88)

My analysis has extended the idea that words as labels can carry immense real and illusory power. We rarely are offered the voice of the mentally impaired; there is a 'silence at the centre' where we continue to know little about the experience of madness or intellectual disability. (89) Our modern imagination resorts to what Guillemette Bolens terms kinaesthetic knowledge, that knowledge of our own visceral understanding or imagining of being physically or mentally restrained or disordered, or knowing of others who are so. (90) There are many modes of imprisonment, from incarceration, detention, confinement, enslavement, and physical restraint, but there is also metaphorical imprisonment. This article speaks to the latter mode first. The power of language can categorize and then lock up people through labels, consigning them in perpetuity to be depicted in medieval or early modern administrative records as forever idiota or non compos mentis. We can only glimpse what those individuals' actual experience was like, and in that sense we are locked out of their experience and confined to our current knowledge through the piecemeal records that substitute for the bodies of actual, once-living persons.

Finally, the literary and cultural analysis of terms for a variety of states of mental impairment in distinct cases in medieval and early modern administrative records offers fruitful insights into the semantic difficulties of labelling those with mental impairment who committed crimes or whose property was subject to Crown law in premodernity. If we 'listen to what the texts have to tell us' we discover an administrative reliance on the restraining terms of idiocy, insanity, and the lucid interval, but these terms are not always consistent, or combined logically. Moreover, as modern readers of early records, we are implicated in our texts as we participate in meaning-making in centuries-old scribal accounts. Common sense tells us that there would have been impaired individuals. But records are not always reliable just because they are called 'records'. Lucy atte Brigge was an individual in a community who thought her to be an idiot, who thought her not to be one, and then again classified or judged her for a second time to be a person of low mental functioning. Maitland's translation about a poor imprisoned wretch tells that that wretch was insane. Walker tells us that this poor wretch was low functioning. This may be the point. The usefulness of these terms carries the modern scholar some distance towards understanding how the law operated but it also exposes the arbitrary nature of law, and the power of words as well as fetters to define and confine those subject to that law.

The University of Melbourne

Helen M. Hickey (*)

(*) I wish to thank the anonymous readers for their incisive comments and valuable advice. Thank you also to Sally Fisher and Lisa Di Crescenzo for initiating and convening the conference 'Tied with indissoluble chains': Languages of Exile and Imprisonment in Medieval and Renaissance England and Italy, at Monash University, Melbourne, 2015.

(1) Nigel Walker, Crime and Insanity in England, vol. 1: The Historical Perspective (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1968), p. 2.

(2) Irina Metzler, Fools and Idiots? Intellectual Disability in the Middle Ages (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016). Patrick McDonagh, Idiocy: A Cultural History (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008) draws on a range of sources from medicine, psychology, literary studies, criminology and more, analysing the construction of 'idiocy' and its expression in the nineteenth and early twentieth century in mainly literary fiction by a range of authors including William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, and Virginia Woolf. C. F. Goodey, an historian of intellectual history, in his A History of Intelligence and 'Intellectual Disability': The Shaping of Psychology in Early Medieval Europe (Burlington: Ashgate, 2011), explores the influence of social, religious and political factors on premodern views of intelligence and its opposite.

(3) Metzler, Fools and Idiots?, p. 2.

(4) Wendy Turner, 'Defining Mental Afflictions in Medieval English Administrative Records', in Disability and Medieval Law: History, Literature, Society, ed. by C. J. Rushton (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2013), pp. 134-56 (p. 147 n. 5). Other scholars of medieval mental impairment include Aleksandra Pfau.

(5) Turner, 'Defining Mental Afflictions', p. 147 n. 5.

(6) Walker, Crime and Insanity, p. 3.

(7) Wendy J. Turner, '"Afflicted with Insanity": The Care and Custody of the Feeble Minded in Late Medieval England' (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 2000), pp. 2, 76-92, for legal/administrative delineations of the categories of impairment.

(8) Several influential texts in madness and disability in early literature are Jeremy Tambling, Allegory and the Work of Melancholy (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004); Lillian Feder, Madness in Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980); Penelope Doob, Nebuchadnezzar's Children: Conventions of Madness in Middle English Literature (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1974); Stephen Harper, Insanity, Individuals, and Society in Late-Medieval English Literature: The Subject of Madness (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2003).

(9) David P. Farrington, and Joseph Murray, eds, Labeling Theory: Empirical Tests (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2014); Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (1963; repr. New York: Aronson, [1974]). For a counter argument that claims labelling theory is not applicable to the mentally ill see Walter R. Gove's Labelling of Deviance: Evaluating a Perspective (Hoboken: Wiley, 1975).

(10) Joshua R. Eyler, 'Introduction', in Disability in the Middle Ages: Reconsiderations and Reverberations, ed. by Joshua R. Eyler (London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 1-10 (p. 6).

(11) There are comparatively few records of impaired individuals but we cannot assume that this is indicative of actual numbers (Walker, Crime and Insanity, p. 4).

(12) Kate Parkin, 'Tales of Idiots. Signifying Something: Evidence of Process in the Inquisitions Post Mortem', in The Fifteenth-Century Inquisitions Post Mortem: A Companion, ed. by Michael Hicks (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012), pp. 79-95.

(13) CPR, Richard II, II, 600: 8 Ric. II (1385). De idiota inquirendo, and De lunatico inquirendo were writs to compel individuals to be examined before a jury panel to ascertain their mental competence to manage their land, or to determine their future care.

(14) Prerogativa Regis, in Statutes of the Realm, ed. by Alexander Luders and others, 11 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan for the Record Commission, 1810-1828), I, 226-27: xi, xii (17 Edw. II, ST. 1, c. 9 and 10 of 1324). See also, 'Joh'a filia et heres David Sulgene fratris Joh'is Sulgene jatui et idiote a baptismo' , Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem (London: HMSO, 1904-) (hereafter CIPM), XVI, 62: 7 Ric. II: v, 62; Calendar of the Close Rolls (London: HMSO, 1833-) (hereafter CCR), XIV, 4: 48 Edw. III (1 February 1372)--a nativitate ('from birth').

(15) Goodey, A History of Intelligence and 'Intellectual Disability', pp. 141-42.

(16) See John Shapland Stock, A Practical Treatise Concerning the Law of Non Compotes Mentis, or Persons of Unsound Mind (London: Saunders and Benning, 1838), p. 81; Eliza Buhrer, 'Law and Mental Competency in Late Medieval England', Reading Medieval Studies, 40 (2014), 82-100.

(17) Sander L. Gilman, 'Madness', in Keywordsjor Disability Studies, ed. by Rachel Adams, Benjamin Reiss, and David Serlin (New York: New York University Press, 2015), pp. 114-19. We cannot know what the experience was like for the unwell, but we occasionally find keyholes into suffering and distress.

(18) Turner, 'Defining Mental Afflictions in Medieval English Administrative Records', p. 134. See also Metzler, Fools and Idiots?, pp. 230-32.

(19) Homer D. Crotty, 'The History of Insanity as a Defence to Crime in English Criminal Law', California Law Review, 12 (1924), 105-23 (pp. 107-08). See Anthony Fitzherbert, New Natura Brevium (London: Rawlins, Roycroft and Flesher, 1686), pp. 517-19, for the term 'idiot or sot' who is someone who does not know their father or mother, cannot count, do not know their age, what shall be for their profit or loss, but if they can read then it seems they are neither a sot or an idiot (p. 517).

(20) Abstracts of Wiltshire Inquisitiones Post Mortem: Returned into the Court of Chancery in the Reigns of Henry III, Edward I, and Edward II A. D. 1242-1326, ed. by Edward Alex Fry, British Record Society, 37 (London: British Record Society, 1908; repr. Nendeln: Kraus, 1968), p. 406.

(21) Turner, 'Defining Mental Afflictions', p. 137.

(22) CPR, Richard II, II, 388: 7 Ric. II (1384).

(23) David Roffe and Christine Roffe, 'Madness and Care in the Community: A Medieval Perspective', British Medical Journal, 7021 (1995), 1708-12.

(24) CPR, Richard II, II, 600: 8 Ric. II (1385), as was asked of Lucy atte Brigge who 'is an idiot' but was examined as to whether she was non compos mentis and if she had 'lucid intervals'.

(25) CIPM, x, 111-34 (file 125): 27 Edw. III.

(26) Henry de Bracton, Henrici de Bracton de legibus & consuetudinibus Anglic (London: Flesher andYoung, 1640), pp. 3, 136 (1.4, 3.17).

(27) Calendar of the Patent Rolls (London: HMSO, 1891-1916) (hereafter CPR), Edward II, I, 227: 3 Edw. II.

(28) Recounted in Barbara A. Hanawalt, 'The Voices and Audiences of Social History Records', Social Science History, 15.2 (1991), 159-75, citing Justice Itinerant 3 [Gaol Delivery], Public Record Office, London, Just.3/48 m. 9d), pp. 171, 175.

(29) Thomas A. Green, 'Societal Concepts of Criminal Liability for Homicide in Mediaeval England', Speculum, 47 (1972), 669-94; Thomas A. Green, 'The Jury and the English Law of Homicide, 1200-1600', Michigan Law Review, 74 (1976), 413-99.

(30) Gershon Berkson, 'Mental Disabilities in Western Civilization from Ancient Rome to the Prerogativa Regis', Mental Retardation, 44.1 (2006), 28-40, (p. 31); Digest of Justinian, ed. by Theodor Mommsen and Paul Krueger, trans. by Alan Watson, 4 vols (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), IV, 822 (Book 48.9). The insanity defence dates to Roman law, and it was sometimes invoked in medieval trials that involved lawbreaking, either secular or ecclesiastical.

(31) Arlie Loughnan, Manifest Madness; Mental Incapacity in Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 67-81 (p. 69).

(32) Cf. CIPM, IV, 78-79: 30 Edw. I. William Berchot was personally examined by the escheator, who finds he is 'manifestly an idiot, and has been so from his birth, nor does he enjoy lucid intervals, but, as he has heard, at lunations is worse and raves with madness'.

(33) Karl Shoemaker, 'The Medieval Origins of the Supreme Court's Prohibition on Executing the Insane', in Who Deserves to Die? Constructing the Executable Subject, ed. by Austin Sarat and Karl Shoemaker (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011), pp. 23-39.

(34) Hanawalt, 'Voices and Audiences', p. 171.

(35) CCR, XIII, 157-67 (p. 165): 44 Edward III (November 1370).

(36) Placita Corone, Select Pleas of the Crown, vol. I, 1200-1225, ed. by F. W Maitland (London: Quaritch, 1886), p. 31.

(37) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery) (London: Public Records Office, 1916), I, 590. Walker, Crime and Insanity, pp. 20-23. More seriously, the Roman code advised that a mad person who had committed murder 'must be guarded the more carefully, or even confined with chains'. The intent of guarding or confinement was not to punish but to prevent harm to others from the actions of the mad person: 'Sane si per furorem aliquis parentem occiderit inpunitus erit, [...] diligentiusque custodiendum esse aut etiam uinculis coercendum' ('If someone kills a parent in a fit of madness indeed he shall not be punished, [...] he must be guarded the more carefully, or even confined with chains'): Digest of Justinian, ed. by Mommsen and Krueger, trans. by Watson, Iv, 822 (Book 48.9).

(38) Thomas de Pottesford, pardoned because he killed his wife in a fit of madness, CPR, Edward III, IX, p. 470: 27 Edw. III.

(39) Maitland, Select Pleas of the Crown, I, 119: part III, Somersetshire Gaol Delivery A.D. 1225, Hundred of Whifley, Case 187.

(40) CPR, Edward III, v, 548: 16 Edw. III (1342).

(41) William R. Riddell, 'Erring Judges of the Thirteenth Century', Michigan Law Review, 24 (1926), 329-43 (pp. 340-42); Wendy J. Turner, 'Mental Health as a Foundation for Suit or an Excuse for Theft in Medieval English Legal Disputes', in Medicine and the Law in the Middle Ages, ed. by Wendy J. Turner and Sara M. Butler (Leiden: Brill, 2014), pp. 157-74 (p. 173).

(42) CCR, Richard II, I, 298-99: 3 Ric. II (1380).

(43) Jean Luand, 'Foolishness and Fools in Aquinas's Analysis', Notandum, 32 (2013), 25-35 (pp. 27-28), on 'fatuity'.

(44) The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. by Barry Windeatt (Cambridge: Brewer, 2004), p. 55 (my emphasis).

(45) Catharine Arnold, Bedlam: London and its Mad (London: Simon & Schuster, 2009), p. 139.

(46) Rachel Koopmans, 'I Take up the Burden: Benedict of Peterborough's Examination of Becket's Miracles', in Koopmans, Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle Collection in High Medieval England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), pp. 159-180 (pp. 162-63, 168).

(47) Koopmans, Wonderful to Relate, p. 168; See Walker, Crime and Insanity, p. 30.

(48) John Bromyard, 'Infirmitas', in his Summa Praedicantium, Pars Prima (Venice, 1586), pp. 375-79 (p. 375).

(49) Ulpianus, cited in Digest of Justinian, ed. by Mommsen and Krueger, trans. by Watson, II, 359 (Book 28, Section 20.4): 'A lunatic cannot be used as a witness either, as he is not of sound mind; but if he has an intermission [my emphasis], he can be used as a witness during that period'.

(50) Shoshana Felman, 'Madness and Philosophy or Literature's Reason', Yale French Studies, 52 (1975), 206-28 (p. 206).

(51) Cited in R. Colin Pickett, Mental Affliction and Church Law: An Historical Synopsis of Roman and Ecclesiastical Law and a Canonical Commentary (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1959), p. 91.

(52) Bartholomaeus Anglicus, John Trevisa's Translation of 'De proprietatibus rerum , ed. by M. C. Seymour, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), I, 348-51 (p. 349) (vI, cap. 5). Bartholomaeus categorizes diseases of the brain according to humours and active and passive states. His last two are stupor and lethargy. If he does distinguish between madness and lunacy it would be the difference betweenfenese and amencia (frenzy versus madness).

(53) Bartholomaeus, John Trevisa's Translation of 'De proprietatibus rerum , I, 349.

(54) Bartholomaeus, John Trevisa's Translation of 'De proprietatibus rerum', I, 350.

(55) Bartholomaeus, John Trevisa's Translation of 'De proprietatibus rerum', I, 349.

(56) Faye M. Getz, History of Science and Medicine: Healing and Society in Medieval England: A Middle English Translation of the Pharmaceutical Writings of Gilbertus Anglicus (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), pp. 6, 8. Gilbertus does not differentiate between lunacy and madness but does make distinctions among the four categories based on the humoral composition of each.

(57) Getz, History of Science and Medicine, pp. 10-11.

(58) Getz, History of Science and Medicine, pp. 11, 12.

(59) Getz, History of Science and Medicine, p. 1 4.

(60) Calendar of Coroners Rolls of the City of London A.D.1300-1378, ed. by Reginald R. Sharpe (London: Clay, 1913), pp. 11, 15-16, 24, 36-37, 178, 210, 215, 249. For example, tisich, fenestre, grave infirmity, posteme (abcess), falling sickness, quinsy, quartan fever.

(61) Maitland, Select Pleas of the Crown, I, 113, pp. 66-67; and Walker, Crime and Insanity in England, p. 32 n. 8. Stultus was a fatuous or stupid individual: see Turner, 'Defining Mental Afflictions', p. 134. This example is from the early thirteenth century.

(62) Maitland, Select Pleas of the Crown, I, 113, pp. 66-67.

(63) Walker, Crime and Insanity in England, p. 32 n. 8.

(64) Alexander Cruden,'The London-Citizen Exceedingly Injured; or, A British Inquisition Display'd, in an Account of the Unparallel'd Case of a Citizen of London, Bookseller to the Late Queen, Who Was in a Most Unjust and Arbitrary Manner Sent on the 23rd of March Last, 1738, by One Robert Wightman, a Mere Stranger, to a Private Madhouse', in A Mad People's History of Madness, ed. by Dale Peterson (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982), pp. 39-56.

(65) Leges Regis Henrici Primi, in Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, ed. by Benjamin Thorpe (London, 1840), pp. 215-74 (p. 255).

(66) Leges Regis Henrici Primi, 78, [section]6, p. 255. Those deaf and mute, 'surdus et mutus', are also mentioned as they are unable to plead on their own behalf.

(67) Patricia H. Allderidge, 'Historical Notes on the Bethlem Royal Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital', Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 47 (1971), 1537-46; Arnold, Bedlam: London and its Mad, p. 22.

(68) Roy Porter, 'Bethlem/Bedlam: Methods of Madness?', History Today, 47.10 (Oct. 1997), 41-47 (p. 41).

(69) The National Archives, Chancery, C143/372/14.

(70) Leon E. Lock, 'Netherlandish Allegories of Madness in English Perspective', in Burning Bright: Essays in Honour of David Bindman, ed. by Diana Dethloff, Tessa Murdoch, Kim Sloan, and Caroline Elam (London: UCL Press, 2015), pp. 16-26 (p. 16). See also Arnold, Bedlam: London and its Mad, p. 139; David L. Braddock and Susan L. Parish, 'An Institutional History of Disability', in Handbook of Disability Studies, ed. by Gary L. Albrecht, Katherine D. Seelman, and Michael Bury (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), pp. 1-67 (p. 11). Michael W. Dols, 'Insanity and its Treatment in Islamic Society', Medical History (1987), 1-14 (p. 3), shows that special provision for the insane in Egypt existed probably from the ninth century.

(71) Margaret McGlynn, 'Idiots, Lunatics and the Royal Prerogative in Early Tudor England', Legal History, 26 (2005), 1-24 (p. 8).

(72) Carlisle, Cumbria Record Office, Q11/1/31/1/28 (Midsummer 1694 Petitions); Steve Hindle, '"Without the cry of any neighbours": A Cumbrian Family and the Poor Law Authorities, c. 1690-1730', in The Family in Early Modern England, ed. by Helen Berry and Elizabeth Foyster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 141-42.

(73) Cumbria Record Office Q/11/1/31, 2 (Midsummer 1694); Peter Rushton, 'Lunatics and Idiots: Mental Disability, the Community, and the Poor Law in North-East England, 1600-1800', Medical History, 32 (1988), 34-50 (p. 37).

(74) A. Fessler, 'The Management of Lunacy in Seventeenth-Century England: An Investigation of Quarter-Sessions Records', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 49.11 (1956), 901-07.

(75) Fessler, 'The Management of Lunacy', p. 903.

(76) Fessler, 'The Management of Lunacy', p. 903.

(77) Fessler, 'The Management of Lunacy', p. 903.

(78) W Hawkins, Treatise of the Pleas of the Crown; or, System of the Principal Matters Relating to That Subject, Digested under Proper Heads (Dublin, Printed by Eliz. Lynch, 1788), p. 2, coda to Section 4, which was the power of Justices of the Peace to apprehend and 'lock up' dangerous lunatics. 17 Geo. II. c. 5. fols 20, 21, from Acts of Parliament of Great Britain.

(79) Hawkins, Treatise of the Pleas of the Crown, p. 2.

(80) Hawkins, Treatise of the Pleas of the Crown, pp. 2-3.

(81) CPR, Edward III, VII, 476: 20 Edw. III (1346).

(82) Garthine Walker, 'Imagining the Unimaginable: Parricide in Early Modern England and Wales, c. 1600-c. 1760', Journal of Family History, 41.3 (2016), 271-93 (p. 275).

(83) Fessler, 'The Management of Lunacy', p. 901.

(84) Matthew Hale, Historia Placitorum Coronae, 2 vols (London: Nutt and Gosling, 1736), I, 29-37.

(85) John Tracy Atkyns, 'Lunatick Petitions, Aug. 4, 1740', in Reports of Cases (London: Strahan and Woodfall for HMLP, 1754), p. 51. An exception was made in cases of felony and piracy where a prisoner refusing to speak is considered to have confessed the indictment or appeal.

(86) Hale, Historia Placitorum Coronae, I, 31.

(87) Stephen Batman, Batman vppon Bartholome, his booke De proprietatibus rerum (London: Thomas East, 1582), which was a popular translation and of and commentary on John Trevisa's middle English translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus's De proprietatibus rerum.

(88) Gary Lilienthal and Nehaluddin Ahmad, 'Deconstructing the Criminal Defence of Insanity', International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 30 (2017), 151-69 (p. 152).

(89) Roy Porter, '"The Hunger of Imagination": Approaching Samuel Johnson's Melancholy', in The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry, ed. by William F. Bynum, Roy Porter, and Michael Shepherd, 3 vols (Cambridge: Wellcome Institute, 1995), I, 63-88 (p. 63).

(90) Guillemette Bolens, The Style of Gesture: Embodiment and Cognition in Literary Narrative (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), p. 2.
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