• Historians have long argued that arbitration was the preferred means of
    resolution for most disputes in later medieval England; but does this apply
    also to the settlement of homicides? Despite the strenuous efforts of the
    English legal system after the Norman Conquest to force homicides through
    the royal courts, historians have argued that homicide continued to be
    settled out-of-court throughout the medieval period. This study examines six
    cases of arbitration centred on homicide from the fifteenth century to
    demonstrate that arbitration was rarely implemented as a means to resolve
    homicides. When it was, it was a relatively small, inter-related group of
    gentry who exploited the provision because they were well placed to
    manipulate the law and because their behaviour was supervised by the
    kingdom’s magnates only once problems had arisen. Accordingly, arbitration
    for homicide was unusual and the practice was anything but inclusive.