Organising defence against the presence and passage of the mercenaries, the great companies, and the Tard-Venus meant the biggest challenge of the magnates and cities of Alsace, Lorraine, and Burgundy in the late 1350s and 1360s. In this paper, I will analyse how they endeavoured to maintain order in the havoc wrought by the mercenary captains like Arnaud de Cervole or Seguin du Badefol. Based on the sources of the archives of Lorraine, Burgundy, and Alsace, and the French, German, and Swiss chronicles related to this era, one can have a good overview on the countermeasures and tools which were applied by the local authorities to contain or at least to reduce the impact of the Routiers.
Though undoubtedly based on the memory of true events, criminal records such as letters of remission and bailiff accounts are constructed narratives that show the perception more than the reality of crime in the Middle Ages. In the context of 15th-century Flemish cities, scholars have used such sources to explore ideas about honor and gender. My research examines the perception of group crime in the late Middle Ages as well as its foil, the stranger. By putting judicial sources in conversation with 15th-century Dutch literature, a clearer picture emerges of the fear of the lone marginal for their ability to create group violence and the social relationships that encouraged group criminality.
The parable of the serpent in Caxton’s Reynard the Fox proposes crime scene re-enactment as a practical innovation in criminal law procedure. Because the plaintiff (a man) and defendant (a snake) cannot agree on the applicability of natural law, the fox-judge has them re-enact the situation from memory. The parable of the serpent allows us to see Caxton’s Reynard the Fox not in the usual way, as a satire of legal abuses, but paradoxically as a text about justice, since the fox-judge is able to restore both parties to the time before the legal conflict. I draw on coroner’s rolls, accounts of coroner juries, and medieval theories of memory to make my case.