In 1532, England was a country marked by high levels of violent crime. Some historians have even argued that the level of violence in England during this time was as bad or worse than in modern-day cities in America. One of the main reasons for this was the lack of a strong central government and the prevalence of feuds and private vendettas between different factions and groups.
To try and address this issue, Parliament passed a law called “homicide se defendendo,” which aimed to discourage killing by providing a legal justification for self-defence. The law stated that killing someone during a quarrel or brawl in self-defence would be justifiable if you had not initiated the fight or could not escape without harm.
This concept of homicide se defendendo was initially intended to apply to situations where both parties were equally culpable in a fight. Still, one party broke off and was pursued by the other. In such cases, the pursued party would be allowed to kill their pursuer in self-defence.
However, the law was not always applied strictly, and there were many cases where people could use the defence of homicide se defendendo to justify killings that were not truly self-defence. This led to a great deal of confusion and inconsistency in the application of the law, and it was eventually revised and replaced by more modern self-defence laws.
Despite the limitations of the homicide se defendendo law, it was a significant attempt by Parliament to address the problem of violent crime in England during a time when the country faced significant social and political unrest. The law’s goal of discouraging killing was noble, and it remains an essential aspect of self-defence laws today.