This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book addresses significant aspects of organised criminality and outlawry, and the governmental and social responses they provoked, during the period from c.1066 to c.1600. It presents a valuable collection of studies addressing the themes of outlawry and crime, and their relationship to government, from different perspectives over an extensive period of English history. It illuminates the extensive diversity of criminal activity and the responses to it during the period under consideration. The book explores and elucidates the harsh personal and proprietorial implications of being branded an outlaw, and the legal consequences of harbouring or aiding outlaws. It examines gentry lawlessness in south-west England, a remote, but strategically important, region where the weaknesses of royal authority provided an environment in which lawbreaking was almost commonplace.