The Insanity Defense before 1800

  title={The Insanity Defense before 1800},
  author={Nigel Walker},
  journal={The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science},
  pages={25 - 30}
  • N. Walker
  • Published 1 January 1985
  • History, Law
  • The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
The earliest context in which madness is treated as an excuse for crime is Justinian's Digest. The Christian church brought this feature of Roman law to pre-Norman England. Madmen were probably not regarded as triable by ordeal, but were simply left to be guarded by their kinsfolk. When trial by ordeal was abandoned, and juries had to determine guilt, juries were at first expected to find madmen guilty but refer their cases to the king for pardon. It was not until about 1500 that juries seem to… 
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