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Bernard Knight, CBEBernard Knight was born in Cardiff, where he has spent most of his life. Starting out as a farmer, he later became a medical student and qualified as a doctor in 1954. Five years later, he moved into forensic pathology and quickly began working for the Home Office. He joined the legal profession as a barrister in 1966 and, by 1980, the University of Wales College of Medicine had appointed him Professor of Forensic Pathology: a post he held for sixteen years before his eventual retirement. Such a background has placed Bernard in an ideal position to write murder mystery stories, a pastime, and now a career, which he has enjoyed since 1961. He has, of course, published many medical textbooks and in the 1970s, wrote several historical novels based in Wales. Bernard's knowledge of life in the 12th century, shown in these latter works, has now joined forces with his pathological expertise to bring us the acclaimed 'Crowner John' series of medieval detective stories. Discover more about medieval coroners in the series of articles, below.

 Crowner John Novels
  • The Sanctuary Seeker
  • The Poisoned Chalice
  • Crowner's Quest

     History of the Medieval English Coroner

    The office of Coroner (Crowner) is a uniquely English institution, instituted almost eight hundred years ago, during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. It survives today in many parts of the world, as one of the legacies of English rule.

  • Part 1: Origins of the Office of Coroner

  • Part 2: Medieval Coroner's Duties

  • Part 3: Coroner's Inquest
         Presentment of Englishry (Welshry)
         The Murdrum Fine
         The Deodand

  • Part 4: Right of Sanctuary Abjuration of the Realm

  • Part 5: Trial by Ordeal, Injuries & Outlaws
         Trial by Fire & Water
         Trial by Bier
         Trial by Combat
         The Coroner as Police Surgeon
         Approver's Appeal (King's evidence)

  • Part 6: Treasure Trove & Nautical Activities
         Treasure Trove
         Wrecks of the Sea
         The Catching of Whale and Sturgeon
         Specials Writs and Commissions
         Late Medieval Decline of the Coroner


     Bernard Knight Links

  • Crowner John Characters

  •  Featured Book
    The Sanctuary SeekerNovember, 1194.

    Appointed by Richard the Lionheart as the first coroner for the county of Devon, ex- crusader Sir John de Wolfe, holds an inquest on an unidentified body in the lonely moorland village of Widecombe.

    But on his return to Exeter, the Coroner is incensed to find that his own brother-in-law, Sheriff Richard de Revelle, is intent on thwarting the murder investigation, particularly when it emerges that the dead man is a Crusader, and a member of one of Devon's finest and most honourable families.

    But Crowner John is ready to fight for the truth. Even faced with the combined might of the all-powerful Church and the nobility...
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