Idiots, Lunatics and the Royal Prerogative in Early Tudor England
Journal of Legal History
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This article examines the care and custody of the insane under the common law in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. Lectures given in the Inns of Court and records of actual idiots and lunatics suggest that, despite the king's prerogative rights over the insane, there seems to have been a general recognition that their families could often provide for them. While the king did not abdicate all his claims to their custody, the administration of those claims demonstrates that a balance could be maintained between the letter of the king's feudal rights, and familial and social expectations of the treatment of the insane.