High Court of Chivalry, 1634-1640


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

The aims of this project were to produce a calendar of the records of the Court of Chivalry in the 1630s and then use this material to analyse concepts of noble honour. Recent work has highlighted the importance of honour in the social and cultural life of early modern England, and our project has confirmed and illustrated this. In March 1634 (not 1633 as the standard accounts have hitherto asserted) the ancient Court of Chivalry, the supreme forum for trial in matters of honour, was established for the first time on a regular basis, with weekly meetings and routine procedures based on Roman Civil Law. This happened largely because the Earl Marshal was given authority to hear pleas of slander and defamatory words or actions, on the basis of a Jacobean proclamation empowering him to intervene in disputes liable to provoke a duel. In the period between March 1634 and its suspension as a result of investigation by the Long Parliament in December 1640 the court heard well over a thousand cases, most of them relating to defamatory language and all of them brought by plaintiffs able to demonstrate their noble lineage. The records generated by these processes which were scattered among the archives at the College of Arms and Arundel Castle in Sussex - have long constituted one of the great unused sources for the history of Charles I's reign. Surviving material covers every stage of the courts proceedings and we have reconstituted the surviving archive on a case by case basis. We have produced a published calendar of the archive Cases in the High Court of Chivalry 1634-1640 (Harleian Society, 2006-7) - which provides an extensive scholarly account of the courts proceedings and then summarises the content and case papers of each of the 738 cases for which we have been able to recover material. We have also set up web site The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, www.court-of-chivalry.bham.ac.uk - which contains our transcripts and summaries of all the case papers, together with explanatory and introductory material, over a million words of text with extensive illustrations.

Main Topics:

This digital resource contains transcriptions of the case a papers for the 738 Court of Chivalry cases for which we have been able to recover details over this period. These are listed in alphabetical order of plaintiffs' names with the plaintiff and defendant appearing in the heading for each separate numbered document within the file. These cases cover a wide range of litigation over matters such as defamation, disputes over precedence, coats of arms, heralds visitations etc. all heard before the court between 1634 and 1640. They provide a mine of information for the social and cultural historian, as well as the local historian and genealogist.

No sampling (total universe)

Transcription of existing materials

Compilation or synthesis of existing material

DOI http://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-5642-1
Metadata Access https://datacatalogue.cessda.eu/oai-pmh/v0/oai?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=oai_ddi25&identifier=ec6f2a24ca77d32c3696fab5984885aa85fe4cbf6d8a164f3179767d667e9794
Creator Cust, R., University of Birmingham
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2007
Funding Reference Arts and Humanities Research Council
Rights Copyright Richard Cust, University of Birmingham, History Department Chapter of the College of Arms, London, His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle, Sussex, and Cambridge University Library (Holders of original sources); <p>The Data Collection is available to UK Data Service registered users subject to the <a href="https://ukdataservice.ac.uk/app/uploads/cd137-enduserlicence.pdf" target="_blank">End User Licence Agreement</a>.</p><p>Commercial use of the data requires approval from the data owner or their nominee. The UK Data Service will contact you.</p>
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Text
Discipline History; Humanities; Jurisprudence; Law; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage England and Wales