Friday, December 15, 2017

Medieval Debtor's Prison PLUS a Giveaway!



I had recently talked with an online friend who is a medieval history buff. In our conversation I asked her somethings about prisons as I was trying to work through some plot issues I had in a new novella I have contracted. Much to my surprise, she informed me that prison in medieval times were not the punishment. They were actually just a holding place while the accused awaited a trial. So, that sent me digging a little more in another direction.


Poultry Compter Operated from medieval times-1815

What I did learn is though prison was not used as punishment for crimes, there was one thing a person could do that would keep them incarcerated and that was to owe a debt, many times to the government. I found that interesting. Crimes were dealt with by punishments other than prison, while owing an unpaid debt could have your thrown in debtor's prison. Kind of seems like defeating the purpose of what they were seeking after.

The Clink- Southwark, England. Operated from the 12th century through 1780. This is the prison that gave us the term, "in the clink".
Prisons and laws varied from country to country just as they do today. The information I found was on Medieval Europe. The majority of prisons started with debtors prison or holding a person until their trial. The early prisons did not always separate men and women. We tend to think of prison like we have to day where each individual gets there own little cell and bed, but that wasn't the case for these debtors many times they were all together in one large cell.

Fleet Prison, London. Operated 1197-1844 "Pray remember ye poor debtors" inmates of the Fleet Prison beg passers by for alms
The problem was they owed a debt. They were not released until the debt was paid. If the husband was the one incarcerated, many times that put a hardship on the wife and his children. Conditions in these prisons were poor, disease was wide spread causing an early death to many. Starvation wasn't uncommon. 

King's Bench Prison- Operated medieval times -1880
So how did one get out of debtors person? Either the family had to come up with the money (many times this took years) or  find someone else who would. Remember the father no longer brought in an income so many of these families feel into poverty, yet they still had to pay for the debt should they want to get their loved one out. In some places certain people became serfs or indentured servants until their debts were paid. 

Southwark (now London) Marshalsea Operated 1373-1842
Debtor's prison didn't end with the medieval time period. Imprisonment for debt continued on into the 19th century. The Debtor's Act of 1869 reduced the numbers of those being incarcerated for debt, however it did not stop it all together. If a person had the means to pay a debt but refused to he could be thrown in debtor's prison for up to six weeks. And if a person owed a debt to the court, then once again he could find himself in debtor's prison. 

What's your opinion on debtor's prison? Did it seem to defeat the purpose? Had you heard about debtors prison before this post? If you had what did was there anything that surprised you? 

GIVEAWAY: 
Answer one of the questions or ask me a question for a chance to win choice copy of one of my books and in choice of format (Sword of Forgiveness comes in audio, too!).

NEW COVER!
The Charleston earthquake has left destruction like nothing Doctor Andrew Warwick has ever seen. On a desperate mission to find the lady who owns his heart, he frantically searches through the rubble, where he finds her injured and lifeless. After she regains consciousness, the doctor’s hopes are quickly dashed as he realizes she doesn’t remember him. Things only get worse when he discovers she believes she’s still engaged to the abusive scoundrel, Lloyd Pratt. Now Drew is on a race with the wedding clock to either help her remember or win her heart again before she marries the wrong man.

Waking in a makeshift hospital, Olivia Macqueen finds herself recovering from a head injury. With amnesia stealing a year of her memories, she has trouble discerning between lies and truth. When her memories start returning in bits and pieces, she must keep up the charade of amnesia until she can find out the truth behind the embezzlement of her family’s business while evading the danger lurking around her.




Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.

21 comments:

  1. What is your favorite genre to read, Debbie? Also, what breed was the first horse you ever had?

    Thanks for the opportunity of this giveaway!

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    1. Hey AGboss! My favorite is historical romance. I love to go back in time with stories. My first horse was an Arab..... I do love the Arab's personalities. They just have so much of it. We have 2 Arabs and 2 TWH and a mini donkey. The Arabs are much more loving. Good luck in the giveaway.

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  2. Yes, I have heard the term Debtor's Prison but I always thought it was just a "Poor House" and not an actual prison.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. Hey Cindy, thanks for coming by. Good luck in the giveaway!

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  3. I had heard of the debtor's prison, but I admit my thinking stopped there. Of course, the conditions were appalling. And yes, I do feel it defeated its' own purpose to take the breadwinner out of the family and thrust a burden like that on the women and children. That's why I love to read, and why I love this blog. It shakes up my thinking and stirs my interest!!!

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    1. Thank you, Connie! We have some awesome authors here who do amazing jobs researching. So much history to discover. Thanks for coming by.

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  4. I've read many books that have mentioned debtor's prison. I never really thought about it much, though. Thanks for the opportunity to win one of your books and good luck everyone.

    princessdebbie1_2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hey Debbie. It's an interesting subject and can be good fodder for books. Good luck in the giveaway!

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  5. I believe they also had some of those in Debtors Prison work. The Poor Houses in America sometimes did.

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  6. I had heard of debtors prison. At least one Dickens’ story has one in it. I think it does defeat the purpose. Thanks for the chance to Win! paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

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    1. Hey Paula, Thanks for coming by and sharing. Good luck in the giveaway.

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  7. I have not heard of a debtor's prison. Thank you for sharing your most interesting post.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. I'm glad you learned something new, Melanie! And I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck in the giveaway.

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  8. As a history buff I've heard of debtors prison, the workhouse, and the poorhouse before. In fact, I have ancestors who are supposed to have died in a poorhouse in the 1800s here in the USA. They were buried in barely marked or unmarked graves on the grounds, my aunt has actually been there to see the area.

    Merry Christmas!
    Jasmine A.
    montanamade(at)gmail(dot)vom

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    1. Hey Jasmine, Wow that is very interesting about your family. It is so sad though. Such a hard life. It makes me realize how blessed we are today for all the opportunities we have. Merry Christmas!

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  9. I had heard of a debtors prison before. I don't remember a lot though. fishingjanATaolDOTcom

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    1. Hey Jan, Thanks so much for dropping by. Good luck in the giveaway!

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  10. Congratulations, Carrie! You won a copy of Shattered Memories!

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  11. Yes, I have heard of debtors prison before but only through novels. They do make for an interesting read, but I am sure it was devastating to whomever was placed in one.

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    1. I can't imagine how bad that had to have been in those days. But it does give writers fodder! Thanks for coming by, Judy.

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