By Jean Dunbabin
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Additional resources for Captivity and Imprisonment in Medieval Europe, C. 1000-C. 1300
Miracle stories and charters now yield nuggets of information in addition to those from chronicles; and although these nuggets are scattered geographically and often difficult to interpret, they do shed some rays of light on the fate of captives. But it is not just a matter of sources. The other reason for the increase in information is the building of more permanent and better-defended residences for aristocrats, the castles, which permitted easier and rather cheaper detention of peasants or knights.
6 They might also be used in prison, though there heavy leg-irons were more common. Metal rings around the wrist similarly chained to the beam or full manacles prevented the prisoner from using his hands to free himself. Both leg-irons and manacles were fastened by bolts, which sometimes proved to be the weak spot in the armoury, breaking or 34 Captivity and Imprisonment in Medieval Europe, 1000–1300 falling apart under such pressure as the prisoner could exert against them. Throughout the high middle ages, a prisoner of less than aristocratic status could expect to be fettered if imprisoned.
62 The prison there represented the part of the judicial system which the bishop was most willing to leave in 42 Captivity and Imprisonment in Medieval Europe, 1000–1300 the citizens’ hands even after he had suppressed their commune. Independent Italian cities dealt with details of detention in the course of broader legislation designed to offer solutions to pressing problems. Their self-confidence in tackling their own difficulties was bolstered by their conscious imitation of ancient Rome’s legislative programme.