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rapes

rapes. Domesday Book shows Sussex in 1086 divided into five secular ‘rapes’, strips running from north to south, each named after its Norman lord, and containing a castle and a harbour. Each had a sheriff and they seem to have been, in effect, miniature shires. The names and nature of the rapes suggest that they were a post-Conquest creation. But the word ‘rape’ is Old English and a pre-Conquest origin is also suspected. In any case rape arrangements were altered post-Conquest. Battle abbey gained jurisdiction equivalent to that of a rape; and a new rape (of Chichester) was created before 1275.

James Campbell

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