Terms

Raptus

Depending upon context, raptus could refer to rape, seizure or abduction. The meaning of this term in Chaumpaigne’s documents has been subject to debate, but growing consensus suggests that in 1380 the raptus of a grown woman would indicate rape. See Pearsall 1992, “When raptus or forms of the verb rapere are used alone, it seems they must mean rape (enforced and completed sexual intercourse), for which no other word is used in law without qualification” (135). Also Cannon 1993. In contrast, Kelly 1998 gathers documents contemporary with Chaumpaigne’s release to argue for raptus as abduction. Chaucer’s own father was a victim of raptus in 1324 in a clear case of abduction.

King’s Bench

A court of common law based, by 1380, in Westminster. Its records were presented somewhat like a book, in an easy-to-read script (Cannon 1993).

Close Rolls

Records maintained by the royal chancery. A Close Roll was a very long scroll created by joining pieces of parchment, onto which letters close–a certain type of legal document from the king–would be copied. Others could “enroll” copies of documents on the back of the roll.