Polish foray (zajazd) was understood as a raiding party enforcing a court order, and derived from an old nobleman's tradition. In the late Middle Ages it was a legal way of withdrawing goods unjustly taken by a neighbour. With the passing of time and the evolution of state jurisdiction and lawful execution ancient foray was delegalised and recognized as a crime, or at least as obsolete and not in accordance with the law. The article shows the revival of ancient foray in the second part of the 17th century and also gives an explanation on how this old custom gathered strength and finally, displacing the ineffective juridical execution by the State, particularly in the 18th century. The juridical archival documents -'prothocollon relationum', from the central part of Poland, contain an infinite amount of complaints against human injustice, while revealing varying social arrangements and mutual (for example, patronal) dependences. The specifications of records allow us to analyze the place of constraint and violence in everyday life. We can reveal certain rules of thumb and other concomitant transgressions which went together with the foray. An examination of some factors, both psychological and social, which seem to have contributed to what contemporaries would have called the foray, also helps to demonstrate the nobleman's mentality in those times. The main target of this research is not only to present the different and unknown facets of reborn noble foray and to redefine it, but first and foremost to present how ritual violence and common law predominated over the state justice and what was the results of the interactions of public and private justice.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.