Honour Disputes, Rituals of Violence and Conflicts in Medieval Bardejov

Spory o česť, rituály násilia a konflikty v stredovekom Bardejove

Research on crime, conflicts and violence in urban milieu usually focuses on authority and the competencies of town judicial courts, as well as preserved legal sources detailing norms and privileges. From another perspective, an analysis of judicial practice sources offers insight into the role of conflicts and violence in everyday life, and reveals strategies that authorities used to deal with them. This paper makes use of both approaches in order to study various aspects of crime and the attitudes and strategies of parties involved in conflicts. Honour and dishonour became a subject of interest for men in letters in the late medieval town of Bardejov. The author explores the phenomenon of dishonour focusing on town citizens, members of the guilds and clerics in the town parish. Some form of slander would usually start a conflict and as it escalated, various kinds of threats, insults, gestures and even assault might follow, finally resulting in an act of violence. Preserved “threatening letters” confirm that in some phase of conflicts, one party used the written form to issue a warning and state their intention to cause harm. Examples of such letters and their role in conflicts between the town of Bardejov and outlaw groups who operated at the northern border of the Hungarian kingdom will attempt to elucidate strategies by the town authorities employed to protect its inhabitants.