Renaissance and Reformation Crime and Punishment
by
Trevor Dean
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0213

Introduction

The study of crime and criminal justice has been one of the most lively areas of the historiography of late medieval and early modern Europe since the 1980s. One of the reasons for this effervescence is that the study of crime lies on the cusp of two key historiographies: that of state formation and evolution, and that of social groups and classes outside the elite. The contribution of public prosecution and punishment of crime to state formation has been a major theme, though it has tended to be supplanted by a more user-focused approach (use of public machinery as part of private disputes). Similarly, the records of criminal trials seem to provide us with direct access to the words and actions of all kinds of subaltern groups, from laborers and artisans to servants and slaves; yet how far these words and actions have been shaped by the dictates of judicial processing remains uncertain. The historiography therefore tends to fall into one of these two categories: the history of the judicial process (the courts, their jurisdiction, forms and frequency of punishment) and the history of individuals and social groups or practices as viewed through the lens of indictments and witness testimony. As historians have explored the range of judicial sources, so the range of crimes and behaviors they have studied has expanded, but three main themes continue to dominate research in this area. Violence figures above all, but subdivided into its various types or victims (vengeance, women, children, poisoning, for example) and with verbal assault now added to physical assault. Sex crimes, though much less common, have attracted much research and discussion: chiefly, rape, sodomy, and prostitution, but also abduction, clandestine marriage, and adultery. Lastly, theft and robbery, again much less represented in the sources, have been studied either at the level of the individual (“professional”) thief or of social groups. This article surveys all these aspects across Western Europe in the period of the Renaissance and Reformation, which is here taken to be the two centuries from 1350 to 1550.

General Overviews

There are few general overviews of this topic, and even Dean 2001 is selective in its geographical treatment. The reason is obvious: comprehensive overviews require proficiency in many languages and expertise in the historiographies of many countries, regions, and centers. The two works cited here provide two different kinds of entrées into this topic: thematic history (Dean 2001), and links to Internet sites and sources (Legal History on the Web).

Sources

Single documents, or small collections, are often appended to articles, but there are few extensive collections of primary documents available. Cases from King’s Bench and other English royal courts have been selected and translated (see Leadam 1903–1911), and as of the early 21st century whole series are being digitized at the University of Houston Law Center (under license from the National Archives, see Anglo-American Legal Tradition). Against this background, two collections of Italian judicial documents in translation—Brucker 1971 and Cohen and Cohen 1993—offer a substantial service to students and scholars.

Bibliographies

There is no existing bibliography that covers the whole of this field, though the national studies listed further below each contains a useful bibliography for the area in question. Rousseaux 2006 and Zorzi 1989 are bibliographical essays, more useful than unannotated lists in indicating the major works and relating them to more general trends and developments.

  • Rousseaux, Xavier. “Historiographie du crime et de la justice criminelle dans l’espace français (1990–2005).” Crime, histoire et sociétés 10 (2006): 123–158.

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    Useful survey of studies relative to France covering the period from the 14th century to 1750, selectively sketching the main themes and issues of fifteen years’ publications.

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    • Zorzi, Andrea. “Giustizia criminale e criminalità nell’Italia del tardo medioevo: studi e prospettive di ricerca.” Società e storia 46 (1989): 923–961.

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      More than just a bibliography: a historiographical essay charting the character, evolution, strengths, and weaknesses of crime-history research in Italy from the late 19th century to the late 20th century.

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      Journals

      There is no single journal devoted to crime and punishment solely in the 15th–16th centuries. Articles relating to crime and punishment are likely to appear in many journals, whether defined by their national or regional coverage or by a specific type of history. Three types of journals are cited here as the most likely locations. First, the specialist journals in the history of crime (Crime, History and Societies, Criminal Justice History). Second, a range of legal history journals, some of them long established, some of them more recent (American Journal of Legal History, Journal of Legal History, Legal History Review), which have a broad chronological and legal coverage (civil as well as criminal law). Third is Past and Present, one of the most important of social history journals internationally, with its high impact, global interests, and broad chronological scope. Some of these journals are available online only with subscription. The British Library, Institute of Historical Research, and large university libraries have holdings of these journals.

      Studies at a National Level

      These are essential starting points for all scholars at various levels. Of these titles, perhaps only Bellamy 1973 and Dean 2007 would count as “national surveys”: though very different in structure and approach, they share a thematic breadth and coverage of the policing/judicial/punitive structures and processes. Gauvard 1991 is a very large monographic study of pardons in 15th-century France that manages to cover almost all aspects of crime and criminal justice: it is a long but very rewarding read. Muchembled 1992, again focused on France, is mainly a study of punishment. Three important collections of essays are also included here: Martines 1972 was one of the first volumes to address issues and aspects of violence in Italian cities; Dean and Lowe 1994 contains a range of articles, some examining the change across time of judicial structures in single cities (as, for example, the chapter by Zorzi—one of the few pieces by this important historian of Florence, available in English), and others examining specific individuals (Benvenuto Cellini) or themes (sumptuary law, banditry, sex crimes); and Bellabarba, et al. 2001 is important for its focus on the relation between formal and informal conflict resolution.

      • Bellabarba, Marco, Gerd Schwerhoff, and Andrea Zorzi, eds. Criminalità e giustizia in Germania e in Italia. Berlin: Duncker and Humbolt, 2001.

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        Ranging across the period from the 14th to the 18th centuries, this collection of sixteen essays (seven in Italian, seven in German, two in French) is important for its focus on private pacification and extra-judicial resolution.

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        • Bellamy, John G. Crime and Public Order in England in the Later Middle Ages. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973.

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          One of the earliest national surveys and still valuable as a point of reference. Covers types of crimes and criminals, the machinery of policing and law enforcement, the trial process, prison, pardon, and punishment. Solidly based on printed primary sources, though rather dated in some of its methods (non-statistical) and selections (a preference for episodes concerning great persons or institutions).

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          • Dean, Trevor. Crime and Justice in Late Medieval Italy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511496455Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            A near-comprehensive survey, first of the sources for the history of crime and criminal justice in the period 1300–1500 (trial records, statute law, chronicles, consilia, and fiction) and then of the main types of criminal acts (violence, insult, theft, rape, sodomy, prostitution).

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            • Dean, Trevor, and K. J. P. Lowe, eds. Crime, Society and the Law in Renaissance Italy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511523410Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              A collection of essays on a wide variety of themes from the history of crime in Italy in the 15th to 17th centuries: from the judicial systems of Florence and Bologna and crime in Sicily, to sexual crimes and sumptuary laws, conspiracy and dueling, banditry, and feud.

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              • Gauvard, Claude. “De grace especial”: Crime, état et société en France à la fin du Moyen Age. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1991.

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                This work is special because it is much broader than its title: it is a history, informed by sociology and anthropology, of law, justice, crime, and power in the French late medieval state; an exhaustive qualitative and quantitative study of criminality, as presented in pardon letters, in the 14th and 15th centuries.

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                • Martines, Lauro, ed. Violence and Civil Disorder in Italian Cities, 1200–1500. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.

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                  One of the first modern studies of violence in the Italian Renaissance period. Pioneering then and still of great use. Contains notable essays by David Herlihy on Tuscany, with its focus on age and marital status of offenders and by John Larner on the Romagna, with an explanation for incapacity of governments to control disorder and feuding.

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                  • Muchembled, Robert. Le temps des supplices: de l’obéissance sous les rois absolus, XVe–XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Armand Colin, 1992.

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                    Traces the growth of spectacular public executions in France as an expression of absolute monarchy: from a regime of fines, penitential pilgrimages and banishment, to one of tormented bodies.

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                    Regional/Local Studies

                    Much of the historiography of crime proceeds from local or regional studies: the investigation of the records of a particular court for a particular span of time. The selection here focuses mainly on influential or well-conducted surveys of cities or regions of Italy, France, and Germany. With the exception of Giuffrida 1980, all of these items have an argument to make, either about the nature of the criminal courts in their relation to the ruling class or to society in general (thus Cohn 1980, Behrich 2007) or about government perceptions and treatment of criminality (Crouzet-Pavan 1984, Schuster 1999), or about the nature of criminality itself (Gundersheimer 1972, Geremek 1987, Barbero 1997). If these arguments seem difficult to harmonize, that is rather typical of historical crime research.

                    • Barbero, Alessandro. “‘Gruppi e rapporti sociali’ and ‘Società e violenza.’” In Storia di Torino, Vol. 2, Il basso Medioevo e la prima età moderna (1280–1536). Edited by Rinaldo Comba, 190–207. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1997.

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                      Tests how far the general perception of increased coercive discipline of social mores in the 14th and 15th centuries is evident in Turin. Finds leniency and discretion rather than severity and rigor, except in the area of sex crimes. Also explores reasons for the growth of violent crime from the early 15th to early 16th centuries.

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                      • Behrich, Lars. “Social Control and Urban Government: The Case of Goerlitz, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.” Urban History 34 (2007): 39–50.

                        DOI: 10.1017/S0963926807004324Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Sees the type of urban government (in this case a small elite without the popular consent that came from guild participation) as having consequences both in the criminal court (less successful in controlling behavior) and in criminal behavior (more violent than elsewhere).

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                        • Cohn, Samuel K. “Criminality and the State in Renaissance Florence, 1344–1466.” Journal of Social History 14 (1980): 211–224.

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                          Among the first modern historians to analyze the totality of prosecutions rather than select the sensational. Argues that the evolution of criminal prosecutions mirrors changes in the balance between classes: courts become the instruments of the urban ruling class against the lower orders.

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                          • Crouzet-Pavan, E. “Violence, société et pouvoir à Venise (XIVe–XVe siècles): forme et evolution de rituels urbains.” Mélanges de l’Ecole Française de Rome, Moyen Age 96 (1984): 903–935.

                            DOI: 10.3406/mefr.1984.2777Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Wide-ranging, sophisticated analysis of the “imaginaire” of violence in Venice, seen through the anxieties expressed in legislation, and contrasted to the realities of violence as recorded in the judicial sources. Focuses on the dramatization and functional calibration of violence.

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                            • Geremek, Bronislaw. The Margins of Society in Late Medieval Paris. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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                              Originally published in Polish and French. Very accessible and influential study of the one surviving register from the Parisian criminal court of the Châtelet (for 1389–1392), classifying the 127 suspects into various groups: thieves and robbers, false and real clerics, beggars, prostitutes, laborers, artisans, and servants. Has been criticized for stressing the marginality of these groups and (by implication) of criminality.

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                              • Giuffrida, A. “Giustizia e società.” In Vol. 3, Storia della Sicilia. Edited by Rosario Romeo, 547–561. Naples, Italy: Società editrice Storia di Napoli e della Sicilia, 1980.

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                                A useful survey, for an otherwise not widely studied region, focusing on criminal sentences issued by the royal court in the 1480s: cases, offenders, and penalties are classified and counted.

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                                • Gundersheimer, Werner L. “Crime and Punishment in Ferrara, 1440–1500.” In Violence and Civil Disorder in Italian Cities, 1200–1500. Edited by Lauro Martines, 109–123. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.

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                                  Using a register of executed convicts, concludes that there was no late-medieval crime wave, that Ferrara was less violent than Los Angeles in the 1960s, and that there was no correlation between crime and food scarcity.

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                                  • Schuster, Peter. “Il funzionamento quotidiano della giustizia nel tardo Medioevo: I registri contabili come fonte di storia criminale.” Quaderni storici 102 (1999): 749–774.

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                                    Looks at the way that fines in mid-15th-century Constance were administered in a complex system of commutation and negotiated settlement, in which the authorities exercised “patience, accuracy, pressure and tenacity.”

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                                    Church Courts

                                    Across Europe the church courts dealt with a range of disputes and offenses, some of which related only to the clergy (internal discipline), and some to clerical control of lay practices, in the areas of oaths, defamation, usury, sexual sin, and matrimonial dispute. Once the preserve of ecclesiastical historians interested in institutional structures and processes, these documents are being studied more often by social historians interested in sexual mores, domestic violence, and the settlement of dispute. Brucker 1991 is an example of a social historian turning to the church court records, while Menchi and Quaglioni 2004 is one volume in a series in which legal and social historians examine matrimonial disputes in early modern Italy: this volume has been selected because of its stronger focus on trials.

                                    • Brucker, Gene A. “Ecclesiastical Courts in Fifteenth-Century Florence and Fiesole.” Medieval Studies 53 (1991): 229–257.

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                                      A rare study of church courts in Italy, surveying the operation of the court and the discipline exercised over clergy (including of sexual misconduct) and over laity (mainly for usury, tithes, and debt).

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                                      • Menchi, Silvana Seidel, and Diego Quaglioni, eds. Trasgressioni: seduzione, concubinato, adulterio, bigamia (XIV–XVII secolo). Bologna, Italy: il Mulino, 2004.

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                                        The third in an important series of volumes focused on matrimonial disputes in Italian ecclesiastical archives. Divided into two parts: in the first, five articles discuss legal definitions and discussions of adultery and bigamy; in the second, eleven articles discuss single trials or groups of trials, mainly in north and central Italy.

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                                        • Wunderli, Richard M. London Church Courts on the Eve of the Reformation. Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1981.

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                                          Describes the church court structure and their legal system, and includes a chapter on sexual crimes (adultery, fornication, pimping, prostitution). The focus is on the range and number of offenders and the penances imposed.

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                                          Crimes

                                          The subsections that follow cover the kinds of crime that have drawn most scholarly attention. They are listed in alphabetical order, and it should go without saying that there is no relation between the extent of research and publication of a specific crime and the frequency or importance of that crime in the trial records of the period: Sodomy and Sexual crimes are probably over-represented in the scholarship, in relation to prosecution rates, while theft is probably under-represented. The inclusion of Vengeance here is contestable: it can be seen as a form of conflict resolution, in a close, permissive relation to justice, rather than as a form of criminal behavior (though there were laws to penalize certain forms of vendetta).

                                          Alleged Ritual Killing

                                          The “blood libel”—the accusation that Jews killed Christian children in order to use their blood in religious rituals—has a long European history. This surfaces in an infamous case in late-15th-century Italy, which had extensive resonance in an increasingly anti-Semitic context. Cited here are two modern studies—Hsia 1992 being a compelling yet simple narrative in English, and Quaglioni and Esposito 1991 being an analysis of the trial.

                                          • Hsia, R. Po-Chia. Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.

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                                            A clear narrative of the highly influential trial of Jews in Trent for the alleged ritual murder of a young Christian boy (“little Simon martyr”), drawing on the trial proceedings and the register of miracles.

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                                            • Quaglioni, Diego, and Anna Esposito. “I processi contro gli ebrei di Trento.” In La parola all’accusato. Edited by Jean-Claude Maire-Vigueur and Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, 282–305. Palermo, Italy: Sellerio, 1991.

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                                              A careful and detailed study of the course of this notorious trial. Examines the way in which fears of a boy’s accidental death were transformed into accusations of ritual killing against Jews in Trent.

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                                              Gambling

                                              Gambling was often the target of censure and criminalization by rulers and was seen as a source of violence, blasphemy, and worse. Though understudied, the topic has been the focus of three fine studies: Mehl 1990 examines the games themselves and the motivations of governmental repression; Ortalli 1993 looks at the tolerant world of the tavern, where gambling was common; and Walker 1999 interrogates both the attraction and the repulsion of gambling for participants and governments.

                                              • Mehl, Jean-Michel. Les jeux au royaume de France du XIIIe au début du XVIe siècle. Paris: Fayard, 1990.

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                                                Within a broader study, two chapters deal with “cheating and violence” and “repression”: classifying in a very stimulating way the means by which games of all kinds (skill and chance) generated violence, and the forms and motivations of the “cascade” of regulation from kings, towns, and church.

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                                                • Ortalli, Gherardo, ed. Gioco e giustizia nell’Italia di Comune. Rome: Viella, 1993.

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                                                  In this stimulating examination of the history of games and play in Italian cities, mainly in the 14th and 15th centuries, one paper (by Ortalli) explicitly addresses the tavern as a site of tolerated gambling and another (by Andrea Zorzi) the increasing “contain and control” policies toward gambling in Florence.

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                                                  • Walker, Jonathan. “Gambling and Venetian Noblemen, c. 1500–1700.” Past and Present 162 (1999): 28–52.

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                                                    Groundbreaking study of what was seen in gambling as problematic, and how and why it changed: a repressive discourse that associated it with blasphemy against a practice that saw it as a test of masculinity.

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                                                    Infanticide

                                                    The killing of newborn infants by parents, usually by the mother, was treated in different ways in different parts of Europe: sometimes this was deemed a sin by the church courts and sometimes a crime by the secular courts. The items cited here reflect that variation, as three historians in different places use different types of record to explore this deed. Brissaud 1972 uses French pardons, Trexler 1973 uses a range of institutional sources, and Helmholz 1975 uses church court records. Brissaud’s focus is the position, psychological state, and fate of mothers who killed their children; Helmholz is more focused on the trials and their outcomes. Trexler also aims to estimate the incidence of infanticide.

                                                    • Brissaud, Y.-B. “L’infanticide à la fin du Moyen Age, ses motivations psychologiques et sa répression.” Revue historique de droit français et étranger 50 (1972): 229–256.

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                                                      Uses letters of pardon to investigate stages in the commission and repression of infanticide, from the mental state of illegitimately pregnant women (their fear and shame, their use of concealment, the pain of secret childbirth), to the discovery of the crime and its very varied punishment.

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                                                      • Helmholz, R. H. “Infanticide in the Province of Canterbury During the Fifteenth Century.” History of Childhood Quarterly 2 (1975): 379–390.

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                                                        Examines the prosecution of infanticide in the church courts, drawing out details on the means of killing and the penalties imposed.

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                                                        • Trexler, Richard C. “Infanticide in Florence: New Sources and First Results.” History of Childhood Quarterly 1 (1973): 98–116.

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                                                          A pioneering study that uses three different types of sources—fiscal, charitable, ecclesiastical—to estimate the scale of infanticide in 15th- and early-16th-century Florence.

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                                                          Insult and Blasphemy

                                                          Both insult and blasphemy were criminalized and punished in this period. Dean 2007 (cited under Studies at a National Level) presents an analysis of the Italian laws on insult and exemplifies the types of words that might incur judicial action. Dean’s study takes further the linguistic approach, pioneered by Burke 1987 who considered material from 16th-century Rome. Trexler 1984 expands the field to include nonverbal communication of insult in martial contexts. Leveleux 2001 is a comprehensive history of legislative attitudes to blasphemy and of its evolution from sin to crime (in France it slowly became an exclusively secular crime, under the influence of royal legislation which increasingly sought to exclude offenders or to punish them through the infliction of physical pain). Flynn 1995 and Horodowich 2003 present more localized analyses, both attesting to the seriousness of the crime in the view of the authorities, and to its frequency in practice, while Connell and Constable 2008 examine a single case with an unusual outcome and an unusual range of sources.

                                                          • Burke, Peter. “Insult and Blasphemy in Early Modern Italy.” In The Historical Anthropology of Early Modern Italy: Essays on Perception and Communication. By Peter Burke, 95–109. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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                                                            Pioneering study of the rules and rituals of insults in 16th- and 17th-century Rome. Examines the various modes of insult (spoken, written, pictorial), the social identity of both perpetrators and victims, the social trajectory of insults, change over time and the attitudes of the authorities.

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                                                            • Connell, William G., and Giles Constable. Sacrilege and Redemption in Renaissance Florence: The Case of Antonio Rinaldeschi. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2008.

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                                                              Based on a single case in which a Florentine citizen was hanged in 1501 for gambling and throwing horse dung at an image of the Virgin Mary. The authors examine both textual and visual sources for this incident, investigating the nature of the offenses (principally blasphemy) in legal and religious sources, and the Florentine historical context in the aftermath of Savonarola. First published in book form in 2005.

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                                                              • Flynn, Maureen. “Blasphemy and the Play of Anger in Sixteenth-Century Spain.” Past and Present 149 (1995): 29–56.

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                                                                Contrasts the seriousness of legal and judicial treatments with the casualness of popular usage. Interprets the former in terms of a perceived parallel between blasphemy and magical formulas and of juristic theories of deliberate intent and literal meaning.

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                                                                • Horodowich, Elizabeth. “Civic Identity and the Control of Blasphemy in Sixteenth-Century Venice.” Past and Present 181 (2003): 3–34.

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                                                                  The increasing concern with blasphemy (creation of a dedicated tribunal, 1537) is contextualized in a variety of ways (religious, political, demographic), and the difficulty of control is stressed in reviewing the activity of the tribunal.

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                                                                  • Leveleux, Corinne. La parole interdite: Le blaspheme dans la France médiéval (XIIe–XVIe siècles), du pêché au crime. Paris: De Boccard, 2001.

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                                                                    A full survey of this sin/crime, where previous studies have been small scale or limited, either in time or by type of document: a roughly chronological examination of ten different types of source material, starting with the Bible (24 Leviticus) and ending with 15th- and 16th-century trial records, also incorporating patristic literature, penitential manuals, canon law, the writings of Alexander of Hales and Aquinas, pastoral literature, exempla, jurisprudence, and legislation.

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                                                                    • Trexler, Richard C. “Correre la terra: Collective Insults in the Late Middle Ages.” Mélanges de l’Ecole Française de Rome, Moyen Age 96 (1984): 845–884.

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                                                                      Collective insults elaborately organized by armies against enemies and by victors against vanquished both to humiliate during hostilities and to commemorate after victory.

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                                                                      Sexual

                                                                      The category of sexual sin or sexual crime is not a straightforward or obvious one (see Nicholas Davidson’s chapter in Dean and Lowe 1994, cited under Studies at a National Level). Prostitution was not a crime, while sodomy was regarded as one of the worst sins and crimes: some of these offenses were dealt with in the ecclesiastical courts and some in the secular. So students need to be aware of the artificiality of this category. Nevertheless, this group of offenses is often studied together, as in Ruggiero 1985, a key starting point, which contrasts the rhetoric of legislation on these issues to the frequency of prosecution and the severity of punishment. Burghartz 2004, on the other hand, examines the translocation of adultery and fornication trials from ecclesiastical to municipal jurisdiction in Reformation Germany. Studies of prostitution have been invaluably assisted by Rossiaud 1988 and its survey of the long-term evolution of governmental attitudes. Otis 1985 shows how rulers promoted an exit from the sex trade for “repentant” prostitutes in the form of dedicated convents, known in Italy as convertite. Mazzi 1991 is a major full-length study of prostitution in Florence, into which Brackett 1993 gives a narrower view regarding governmental policy, and Lanz 2002 provides complementary material from Spain. Finally, Zanoboni 1998–1999 draws attention to the historical incidence of pedophilia.

                                                                      • Brackett, John K. “The Florentine Onestà and the Control of Prostitution, 1403–1680.” Sixteenth-Century Journal 24 (1993): 273–300.

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                                                                        Traces the establishment (then abandonment) of the Florentine government’s changing policy to control prostitutes in public brothels.

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                                                                        • Burghartz, Susanna. “Ordering Discourse and Society: Moral Politics, Marriage and Fornication During the Reformation and the Confessionalization Process.” In Social Control in Europe, 1500–1800. Edited by Herman Roodenburg and Pieter Spierenburg, 78–98. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2004.

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                                                                          Examines the different paces at which municipal laws and courts took over the penalization of adultery and fornication in the context of the Reformation redefinition of the social status of marriage.

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                                                                          • Lanz, Eukene Lacarra. “Legal and Clandestine Prostitution in Medieval Spain.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 79 (2002): 265–285.

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                                                                            Using royal and urban legislation and trial records, traces the lengthy process of legalization, regulation, and institutionalization of prostitution in Spain, from c. 1300 to 1500, noting that the institution of urban brothels did not prevent the continued presence of pimps or informal prostitution.

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                                                                            • Mazzi, Maria Serena. Prostitute e lenoni nella Firenze del Quattrocento. Milan: Il Saggiatore, 1991.

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                                                                              Conceived not as a history of a marginal group, or as a history of women, but as a history of individuals and their life experiences: this aspect comes to the fore in Part 3, which examines the location and management of brothels, the geographical origin of prostitutes, their experience of violence and coercion, their transitoriness, their clientele, and their relations with “ordinary” traders.

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                                                                              • Otis, Leah Lydia. “Prostitution and Repentance in Late Medieval Perpignan.” In Women of the Medieval World: Essays in Honor of John H. Mundy. Edited by Julius Kirshner and S. F. Wemple, 137–160. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.

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                                                                                Within the context of the brothel as municipal institution, this article examines the relation between regulation of the brothel in 15th-century Perpignan and the establishment of a convent for “reformed” prostitutes.

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                                                                                • Rossiaud, Jacques. Medieval Prostitution. Oxford: Blackwell, 1988.

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                                                                                  Focusing on France (especially Dijon) in the 15th and early 16th centuries, this very useful study starts with a piece previously published in Annales E.S.C. 1976 about gang rapes and prostitution in Dijon. It then provides a broader survey of the long-term evolution of regulation of brothels and prostitutes, from expulsion to integration. Essential starting point.

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                                                                                  • Ruggiero, Guido. The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                    A fundamental study of sex crimes in Venice between the mid-14th and mid-15th centuries—fornication, adultery, sacrilegious sex, rape, and sodomy—that contrasts legislative rhetoric with judicial enforcement and builds a controversial picture of a culture of illicit sexuality.

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                                                                                    • Zanoboni, Paola. “‘O ribaldo prevosto . . .’ Pedofilia nella Milano quattrocentesca.” Archivio storico lombardo 12.5 (1998–1999): 535–543.

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                                                                                      Presents the shocking testimony regarding the sexual abuse of children by a priest in the 1450s–1460s.

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                                                                                      Sodomy

                                                                                      Pioneers in the history of sodomy have been historians of Renaissance Italy, where two cities—Florence and Venice—established special tribunals to investigate, apprehend, and punish offenders. Labalme 1984 is a thorough examination of the Venetian evidence for policing and punishment, while Rocke 1996 is a full-length, detailed study of thousands of denunciations. But sodomy is now also studied in other parts of Europe: Boone 1996 counts the rising numbers in Bruges, Karras and Boyd 1996 presents a rare case from London that seems to have perplexed the authorities, Solorzano Telecha 2007 traces early cases in Spain, and Puff 2003 provides an excellent study of the trials in 15th- and 16th-century Germany.

                                                                                      • Boone, Marc. “State Power and Illicit Sexuality: The Persecution of Sodomy in Late Medieval Bruges.” Journal of Medieval History 22 (1996): 135–153.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/S0304-4181(96)00001-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Quantifies the rising trend of executions for sodomy in Bruges, 1385–1515. Provides a profile of those convicted and some explanations for the phenomenon.

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                                                                                        • Karras, Ruth M., and David L. Boyd. “‘Ut cum muliere’: A Male Transvestite Prostitute in Fourteenth-Century London.” In Premodern Sexualities. Edited by Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero, 101–114. New York and London: Routledge, 1996.

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                                                                                          A rare case, from London in 1395, examined in terms of medieval ideas of sex and gender. The authors inquire into the nature of this man’s offence (effeminacy? sodomy?), and conclude that there might not have been a category for his behavior. Text also available in the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

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                                                                                          • Labalme, Patricia H. “Sodomy and Venetian Justice in the Renaissance.” Tijdschrift voor rechtsgeschiedenis 52 (1984): 217–254.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1163/157181984X00114Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Reconstructs the changes in the policing and prosecution of sodomy in 15th- and early-16th-century Venice, covering issues of geographical origin and social status of suspects, the treatment of children and clergymen, the range of punishments, and placing sodomy in relation to the regulation of prostitution and transvestism.

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                                                                                            • Puff, Helmut. Sodomy in Reformation Germany and Switzerland, 1400–1600. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

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                                                                                              Situated in the social history of language, this study examines the late medieval prosecutions, the discourse on sodomy in pre-Reformation religious manuals and sermons (focuses on the metaphor of “unspeakable”), the 16th-century trials and the everyday sexual encounters that they reveal, the centrality of Sodom in Reformation polemic, and cases of defamation, slander, and insult.

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                                                                                              • Rocke, Michael. Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1996.

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                                                                                                Over four thousand men were incriminated before Florence’s sodomy tribunal (the Ufficiali di notte) between 1478 and 1502. Rocke conducts an exhaustive study of the surviving documentation, placing it in the context of changes in the law and policing and penal policy. Shows how homosexuality was constructed in terms of life stages and gender. His conclusion, that sodomy was a common male experience, has been criticized.

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                                                                                                • Solorzano Telecha, Jesus Angel. “Fama publica, Infamy and Defamation: Judicial Violence and the Social Control of Crimes Against Sexual Morals in Medieval Castile.” Journal of Medieval History 33 (2007): 398–413.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.jmedhist.2007.09.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Sodomy trials in Castile between 1496 (the first case) and 1516: surveying the relevant laws (stressing the severity of the 1497 Pragmatica), and the twenty-seven cases (stressing their instrumentality in urban governments’ self-image and their discourse of public good).

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                                                                                                  Theft

                                                                                                  Theft is covered in some of the more general works above (Geremek 1987, cited under Regional/Local Studies; Dean 2007, cited under Studies at a National Level) but has also been the subject of some detailed individual studies. Sweeney 1984 and Sarazin 2003 both take cases of eighteen-year-old males prosecuted and punished for theft. Their approaches both focus in part on reconstructing life histories, while Cohen 1998 adopts a more microhistorical method centering on individual strategies in the courtroom (in the mode of Carlo Ginzburg’s Menocchio or Natalie Davis’s Martin Guerre). Toureille 2006 has used letters of pardon to write a general profile of robbery and brigandage in 15th-century France, asking basic questions about the identities of thieves and the typology of their criminality.

                                                                                                  • Cohen, Thomas V. “Three Forms of Jeopardy: Honor, Pain and Truth-Telling in a Sixteenth-Century Italian Courtroom.” Sixteenth-Century Journal 29 (1998): 975–998.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2543354Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Three Spanish thieves appear before the criminal court in Rome in 1556. In this lively and stimulating piece of microhistory, their individual strategies are analyzed and the nature of their collaboration investigated.

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                                                                                                    • Sarazin, Jean-Yves. “Marginality and Justice in 1500: The Theft of Sacred Objects in Châlons en Champagne.” Viator 34 (2003): 308–327.

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                                                                                                      The trial of an eighteen-year-old apprentice purse maker for theft of chalices: from testimony, this article reconstructs the man’s history and traces stages in the trial and the dosage of punishment. Explicitly Geremekian in its location of this thief among the marginal population.

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                                                                                                      • Sweeney, J. R. “High Justice in Fifteenth-Century Normandy: The Prosecution of Sandrin Bourel.” Journal of Medieval History 10 (1984): 295–313.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/0304-4181(84)90013-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        The prosecution of an eighteen-year-old burglar in Normandy in 1493 is used in two ways: to reconstruct and interpret his life history and to estimate the costs and benefits to the local lord of an execution by hanging.

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                                                                                                        • Toureille, V. Vol et brigandage au Moyen Age. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2006.

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                                                                                                          A useful survey, focused on 15th- to early-16th-century France. Classifies first thieves and thieving (by sex, age, family and social status, occupation, poverty; times and places, objects), then brigands (by their relation to warfare and frontiers and by the distinguishing practices of hardened robbers).

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                                                                                                          Vengeance

                                                                                                          The place of revenge and feuding in relation to law and law enforcement, on the one hand, and in relation to practices of social control of violence on the other, has been a major topic of debate among historians in recent years: there has been a shift from seeing revenge as a breakdown of public order to seeing it as part of a sanctioned set of extra-judicial means of dispute settlement. Zorzi 1996 offers a good statement of the latter position. Zmora 2011 also normalizes feud. Finch 1997 dissents. Muir 1993 and Nassiet 2007 take rather different approaches: the former places vendetta into its context of regional factional rivalry, while the latter uses pardons for revenge to argue against Norbert Elias’s “civilizing process” according to which homicide rates fell as early modern Europeans learned to curb their emotions. Mauguin 1935 is useful as a repository of references to printed primary sources on revenge.

                                                                                                          • Finch, A. J. “The Nature of Violence in the Middle Ages: An Alternative Perspective.” Historical Research 70 (1997): 243–268.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.00043Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Against the view of many historians that homicide was frequent, violence routine, and feuding central in 15th-century society, this article uses evidence from Normandy to argue that most violence was mild and feuding rare.

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                                                                                                            • Mauguin, Gabriel. Moeurs italiennes de la Renaissance: la vengeance. Paris: Publications de la Faculté des Lettres de Strasbourg, 1935.

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                                                                                                              Steeped in the published sources of the 15th and 16th centuries, particularly chronicles, this wide-ranging, still useful survey of the origins, course, and conclusion of vendetta (and of its eclipse in the early 17th century) is often overlooked by modern scholars and is not easily accessible.

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                                                                                                              • Muir, Edward. Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta and Factions in Friuli During the Renaissance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                Much-discussed, influential study of a carnival massacre in Udine in February 1511. Interprets this one event in terms of long-term factional formation in the region, of wider patterns of symbolic action, and of the evolution of vendetta practices toward the duel.

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                                                                                                                • Nassiet, Michel. “Vengeance in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century France.” In Cultures of Violence: Interpersonal Violence in Historical Perspective. Edited by Stuart Carroll, 117–128. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2007.

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                                                                                                                  Uses information from pardons regarding the occasions, timing, and persistence of revenge in order to argue, contrary to Elias’s “civilizing process,” that high homicide rates were not due to an inability to control emotions.

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                                                                                                                  • Zmora, Hillay. The Feud in Early Modern Germany. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                    Going beyond existing research, which has shown the social extent and functions of feuding, this study asks why people chose to feud, especially when feud occurred within communities. Seeks answers in relations and attitudes among the aristocracy, which made even costly feuding seem a rational strategy to protect credit worthiness and ancestral property.

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                                                                                                                    • Zorzi, Andrea. “Conflits et pratiques infrajudiciaires dans les formations politiques italiennes due XIIIe au XVe siècles.” In L’infrajudiciaire du Moyen Age à l’époque contemporaine. Edited by Benoît Garnot, 20–35. Dijon, France: Editions universitaires de Dijon, 1996.

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                                                                                                                      A strong statement of the priority of infrajudicial practices in conflicts and conflict resolution: vendetta and pacification presented as legitimate, trials as phases in conflicts, and penal justice as a resource in political struggles.

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                                                                                                                      Violence

                                                                                                                      How violent was society in this period? How and why did levels of violence change? How was violence practiced in everyday life? These are the questions that have been central to the discussion of violence among scholars in many countries. And in the background to many of their answers has been the work of Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process (first published in German in 1939, translated into English in 1978). Gurr 1981 first presented the statistical evidence for deep, long-term decline in physical violence in England (based on homicide rates). This topic was then made more accessible to historians by Stone 1983, in a much-discussed contribution. Schwerhoff 2002 and Schwerhoff 2004 have critiqued the explanatory power of the “civilizing process” and the relation between homicide rates and general violence, and Schwerhoff has advanced his own model for analyzing violence. Spierenburg 2008 modifies Elias’s “civilizing process” by arguing for an early modern pacification of the elite through the spread of a new concept of honor, which did not require physical response to challenge. Meanwhile, a more qualitative approach to violence has focused, as in Pythian-Adams 1991, on the ritualistic or scripted nature of personal confrontations, or, as in Groebner 2004, on the significance of signs, such as the mutilated face. Finally, works such as Ruggiero 1980 and Kaeuper 2000 reveal the variation of violence between classes, in contrast to Blumenthal 2004, which instances cross-class collaboration in violent affrays and Villalon 1998 who undermines the case for family solidarity containing violence.

                                                                                                                      • Blumenthal, Debra. “Defending Their Masters’ Honour: Slaves as Violent Offenders in Fifteenth-Century Valencia.” In A Great Effusion of Blood? Interpreting Medieval Violence. Edited by Mark D. Meyerson, Daniel Thierry, and Oren Falk, 34–56. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                        Uses a specific type of judicial document (unprosecuted complaints) to uncover surprising types of slave violence: not those of slaves against masters, but of slaves in the service of masters.

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                                                                                                                        • Groebner, Valentin. Defaced: The Visual Culture of Violence in the Late Middle Ages. New York: Zone, 2004.

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                                                                                                                          A short book on images of violence, challenging the modern representation of the Middle Ages as extremely violent and examining the role of signs in the maintenance of law and order in towns; violence to the face, specifically the cutting off of the nose (a theme previously treated in History Workshop Journal, 40 [1995]); the images of the crucified Christ; and the narration of battlefield atrocities.

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                                                                                                                          • Gurr, T. R. “Historical Trends in Violent Crime: A Critical Review of the Evidence.” Crime and Justice 3 (1981): 295–344.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/449082Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Presents the evidence for a steep, long-term decline in violent crime, from medieval to modern England, and explains this with the term “civilizing process” coined by Norbert Elias.

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                                                                                                                            • Kaeuper, Richard W. Violence in Medieval Society. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2000.

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                                                                                                                              Amid a broad chronological coverage, particularly relevant here are the essays by M. L. Bohna, reexamining the violent rivalry of aristocratic factions in later medieval England, and by Malcolm Vale, on an instance of trial by battle in Nancy, 1386.

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                                                                                                                              • Pythian-Adams, Charles V. “Rituals of Personal Confrontation in Late Medieval England.” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 73 (1991): 66–90.

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                                                                                                                                An important statement in English of the ritual nature of personal aggression, leading to the establishment of a set of “ground-rules” running from the initial insults or threats, through to the exchange of blows and the intervention of pacifiers.

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                                                                                                                                • Ruggiero, Guido. Violence in Early Renaissance Venice. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                  Excellent, much-cited analysis, concentrating on the 14th century. Covers speech-crimes, assault, rape, and murder, and contrasts the rhetoric of the law against the type and severity of penalties actually inflicted. Also contrasts the behavior of different social classes in unexpected ways. Readers should consult some of the reviews that have criticized aspects of the analysis.

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                                                                                                                                  • Schwerhoff, Gerd. “Criminalized Violence and the Process of Civilization: A Reappraisal.” Crime, histoire et sociétés 6 (2002): 103–126.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.4000/chs.418Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    An important article that questions the assumed relation between homicide rates and the general level of violence. Also expresses a microhistorical understanding of the form, function, and meaning of violence, as compared to the macrohistorical approaches of Elias (“the civilizing process”) and Spierenburg.

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                                                                                                                                    • Schwerhoff, Gerd. “Social Control of Violence, Violence as Social Control: The Case of Early Modern Germany.” In Social Control in Europe, 1500–1800. Edited by Herman Roodenburg and Pieter Spierenburg, 220–246. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                      Proposes an analytical framework for verbal and physical violence (“a phenomenology of affective violence”) that is based on three elements (status and relations of persons involved, motives, forms) and centered on conflicts about honor.

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                                                                                                                                      • Spierenburg, Pieter. A History of Murder: Personal Violence in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                        Covers the period from the later Middle Ages to the 17th century and beyond. Its geographical scope ranges across northern Europe, with some material from Italy and Spain. In aiming to examine “patterns in the character, incidence, social meaning, and cultural context of murder” (p. 2) the author stresses “the crucial role of honor” (p. 7) in explaining the long-term evolution of personal violence and homicide.

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                                                                                                                                        • Stone, Lawrence. “Interpersonal Violence in English Society 1300–1980.” Past and Present 101 (1983): 22–33.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/past/101.1.22Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          A seminal article that introduces, confirms, and seeks to explain the long-term decline in homicide rates in England, as first plotted graphically by Gurr 1981. Also discussed by James Sharpe, “The History of Violence in England: Some Observations.” Past and Present 108 (1985): 206–215.

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                                                                                                                                          • Villalon, L. J. Andrew. “Deudo and the Roots of Feudal Violence in Late Medieval Castile.” In The Final Argument: The Imprint of Violence on Society in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Edited by Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon, 55–72. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                            Argues against the view that kinship ties among the Spanish aristocracy in the 15th century played an important role in preventing violence.

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                                                                                                                                            Punishment

                                                                                                                                            Two excellent general works in French give a near-perfect introduction to the theme of punishment: Gonthier 1998 is clear and comprehensive in its classifications but is mainly focused on France. Zaremska 1996 takes a much broader geographical view but is mainly focused on punishments that involved some form of exclusion.

                                                                                                                                            • Gonthier, Nicole. Le châtiment du crime au Moyen Age: XI–XVIe siècles. Rennes, France: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                              Comprehensive, highly organized study of punishment, mainly in France, across a broad period. Covers fines, imprisonment, infamy, banishment, mutilation, and death, and framed by consideration of the definition of crime and the rationale of punishment.

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                                                                                                                                              • Zaremska, Hanna. Les bannis au Moyen Age. Paris: Aubier, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                Wide-ranging study of the various forms of exclusion imposed by late-medieval penal justice: simple expulsion, outlawry, banishment, exile, penitential pilgrimages. Draws examples widely from Continental Europe and includes rare discussion of Polish material.

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                                                                                                                                                Capital

                                                                                                                                                The history of public execution—mostly by hanging or beheading—has become multifaceted, and the citations here attempt to represent those aspects. Egmond 2003 and Zorzi 1993 record the evolution of the practice itself—its frequency, location, and purposes. Cohen 1990 and Zorzi 1993 examine the ceremonial and ritual aspects, stressing the active role in the “drama” played by (or at least expected of) the convict. Braun 1989 and Klemettilä 2006 conduct close studies of the figure of the executioner and his infamous reputation, while Prosperi 1982 and Terpstra 2008 examine the role of Italian confraternities who supplied “comforters” to accompany convicts to the scaffold. Two studies are cited that work in the interface between painting and punishment: Edgerton 1985 on punishment by defamatory painting (an official practice in Italian cities, targeted at public enemies) and Merback 1999 on the complex ways that executions were used by painters and that paintings conditioned public reception of executions.

                                                                                                                                                • Braun, Pierre. “Variations sur la potence et le bourreau: A propos d’un adversaire de la peine de mort en 1361.” In Histoire du droit social: Mélanges en hommage à Jean Imbert. Edited by Jean-Louis Harouel, 95–124. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                  Starting from the case of a man who abused workers erecting new gallows, this study broadens to survey the evolution of the role of public executioner in France and Germany from the 14th to the 16th centuries: a history of professionalization. Also deals with the ways in which infamy attached to the role.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Cohen, Esther. “‘To Die a Criminal for the Public Good’: The Execution Ritual in Late Medieval Paris.” In Law, Custom and the Social Fabric in Medieval Europe: Essays in Honor of Bryce Lyon. Edited by Bernard S. Bachrach and David Nicholas, 285–299. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                    Explains the complex rituals of public execution, including first the separation of the convict from the community, then his reintegration in terms of relations among authorities, public, and convict.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Edgerton, Samuel Y. Pictures and Punishment: Art and Criminal Prosecution During the Florentine Renaissance. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                      A fundamental study of the Italian civic practice of painting humiliating images of public criminals in conspicuous places.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Egmond, Florike. “Execution, Dissection, Pain and Infamy: A Morphological Investigation.” In Bodily Extremities: Preoccupations with the Human Body in Early Modern European Culture. Edited by Florike Egmond and Robert Zwijnenberg, 92–127. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                        Places the increase in torture and corporal punishment in the context of growing cultural preoccupation with the body and argues that dishonor and shame, not pain, was the primary aim of punishment. Also compares public execution and public dissection of corpses of criminals.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Klemettilä, Hannele. Epitomes of Evil: Representation of Executioners in Northern France and the Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                          Using a wide variety of textual and visual sources, this study analyzes aspects of the representation of executioners (their dress and physical appearance, their body language, their attributed speech) and concludes stressing characterization in terms of cruelty, vice, and stupidity.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Merback, Mitchell B. The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel: Pain and the Spectacle of Suffering in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. London: Reaktion, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                            Explores the intersection between criminal justice and religion, namely through paintings that stress the penal aspects of the crucifixion of Christ, representing it in terms of contemporary audiences’ experience of public execution of criminals.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Prosperi, Adriano. “Il sangue e l’anima: Ricerche sulle compagnie di giustizia in Italia.” Quaderni storici 51 (1982): 959–966.

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                                                                                                                                                              A pioneering study that examines the function of confraternities that comforted convicts on the scaffold and provided for their burial: interprets this function in terms of the relation between religion and the state and explains the origin of these confraternities in the mid-14th century.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Terpstra, Nicholas, ed. The Art of Executing Well: Rituals of Execution in Renaissance Italy. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                Six chapters explore the practices and tools of “comforters” (members of specific confraternities) on the scaffold: from the influence of religious dramas, and the use of devotional songs, to small panel paintings (used to screen the convict’s vision) and the sacrament of penance. Includes translation of the Bolognese Comforters’ Manual.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Zorzi, Andrea. “Le esecuzioni delle condanne a morte a Firenze nel tardo Medioevo tra repression penale e cerimoniale pubblico.” In Simbolo e realtà della vita urbana nel tardo Medioevo. Edited by Massimo Miglio and Giuseppe Lombardi, 165–216. Rome: Vecchiarell, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Highly organized and stimulating examination of the long-term evolution, across the 14th and 15th centuries, in the numbers and types of convicts executed, in the location and ceremonial of executions, and in the roles played by the convicts themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Corporal

                                                                                                                                                                  The lion’s share of attention in punishment studies has been taken by spectacular (though not regular) capital executions. The more common, but less sensational, corporal punishments have attracted less study. The theme of pain and shame inflicted on the body of wrongdoers is treated in the general surveys cited above but is investigated in much greater depth in these two studies of late-medieval/early modern England, both of which focus in part on the intended and actual impact of such punishments on spectators (Carrel 2009, Ingram 2004). These studies are important to a full understanding of the infliction of pain for penal purposes.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Carrel, Helen. “The Ideology of Punishment in Late Medieval English Towns.” Social History 34 (2009): 301–320.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/03071020902981626Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Investigates how local town courts punished minor offenses (breaches of the peace, violation of trading laws, etc.) and stresses both the reformative and caritative functions of public punishment: that is, reforming the offender and stimulating charity among spectators.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Ingram, Martin. “Shame and Pain: Themes and Variations in Tudor Punishments.” In Penal Practice and Culture, 1500–1900: Punishing the English. Edited by Simon Devereaux and Paul Griffiths, 36–62. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Tackles a neglected topic: the infliction of shame and pain by local courts (in this case in London, 1470–1570). Notes the range of those subjected to pillory, whipping, “rides,” and ducking—broadly categorized as those who practiced false dealing—and examines the impact on recipients and spectators, and populist use by the authorities.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Exile

                                                                                                                                                                      Removal of offenders from the territory of a city or state as a form of punishment for a fixed period or indefinitely—exile—was mainly imposed for political crimes and was different from the exclusion of those who failed to appear in court when summoned (contumacy, outlawry). Yet at the end of this period exile did begin to be applied to non-political crimes. Shaw 2000 is a thorough study of political exile, while Coates 1998 shows the related innovative developments of the 15th century.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Coates, Timothy J. “Crime and Punishment in the Fifteenth-Century Portuguese World: The Transition from Internal to External Exile.” In The Final Argument: The Imprint of Violence on Society in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Edited by Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon, 119–139. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Considers the innovation of overseas exile (to North Africa and the Atlantic islands) as punishment in 15th-century Portugal.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Shaw, Christine. The Politics of Exile in Renaissance Italy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511496912Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Extended treatment of the use of exile for political crimes in the 15th century, with a firm basis in Sienese records, but reaching out to cover the rest of Italy. The chapters follow the lifecycle of the exile, from the legal procedures and rationales of exile, to the experience of life in exile, governments’ monitoring of exiles and the exiles’ cultivation of new friendships, to the eventual repatriation.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Imprisonment

                                                                                                                                                                          The conventional view of prison before the 19th century (and one paradoxically reinforced by Foucault’s Discipline and Punish) is that it had a function in pre-trial custody but not in post-trial punishment. This position is set out in Peters 1998. Geltner 2008 has conversely shown how imprisonment was already being used punitively in the later Middle Ages. Meanwhile, the study of surviving prison registers has proved a very fertile field: though the registers are often fragmentary, as in Gauvard, et al. 1999, they can be used creatively. Brownhall 2004 is an innovative comparative study on gender differences in prison, concluding on issues of power that were surprisingly to the advantage of the poor, female inmate.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Brownhall, Susan. “Poverty, Gender and Incarceration in Sixteenth-Century Paris.” French History 18 (2004): 1–24.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/fh/18.1.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Uses four prison registers (1537–1579) to analyze and explain the gender ratio among prisoners and gender differences in causes for imprisonment, length of stay, assistance from outside, poverty, and punishment. Focuses on ways that poverty provided “possibilities for power . . . in the prison environment.”

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Gauvard, Claude, M. Rouse, R. Rouse, and A. Soman. “Le Châtelet di Paris au début du XVe siècle d’après les fragments d’un register d’écrous de 1412.” Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Chartes 157 (1999): 565–591.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.3406/bec.1999.450994Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Using a prison-register that covers just six days in April–May 1412, the authors skillfully reach out from the history of imprisonment to the themes of nonjudicial dispute resolution, masculine violence, and policing.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Geltner, Guy. The Medieval Prison: A Social History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Demonstrates that contrary to the persistent claims of modern historians, the prison as a punitive institution was born in the later Middle Ages; contrary to the persistent claims of medieval historians, shows that prisons were not “hell-holes.” In pursuing these purposes, Geltner also shows how important prisons were in Italian urban life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Peters, Edward. “Prison Before the Prison: The Ancient and Medieval Worlds.” In The Oxford History of the Prison. Edited by Norval Morris and David J. Rothman, 25–41. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Useful, long-term overview of the theory and practice of imprisonment.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Informal Punishment

                                                                                                                                                                                  Outside the formal structure of denunciation, trial, and official punishment, village and town communities had their own more informal means of censuring behavior considered to be detrimental to local society. Among these, the practice of charivari, or “rough music,” often used by groups of male youths to humiliate or disrupt the second marriages of widowers, has attracted a good deal of scholarly attention, represented here by two seminal studies by leading social historians (Davis 1971, Klapisch-Zuber 1980).

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Davis, Natalie Zemon. “The Reasons of Misrule: Youth Groups and Charivaris in Sixteenth-Century France.” Past and Present 50 (1971): 41–72.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/past/50.1.41Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Very influential study, which rejects then-current interpretation of charivari (“rough music”) as a safety valve in favor of active construction of values and critique.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Klapisch-Zuber, Christiane. “The Italian Medieval Mattinata.” Journal of Family History 5 (1980): 3–24.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Similarly influential study of the practice of charivari (rough music disrupting, humiliating or “honoring” the remarriages of widows) as an example of a popular practice increasingly censured and prohibited by the authorities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Women

                                                                                                                                                                                      Female involvement in crime has been a common concern since the later 20th century, though there is as yet no single overview. Many of the studies listed above examine the criminalization and penalization of women (most obviously, studies of prostitution and infanticide, but also of theft and violence). The two studies cited here, Cohn 1996 and Gonthier 1984, are special in that they examine a range of female involvement in crime: both as perpetrators and as victims in specific societies of the 15th century (Cohn 1996 argues for an evolution across time between these two roles). Cohn presents a very readable combination of individual cases and statistical analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cohn, Samuel K. Women in the Streets: Essays on Sex and Power in Renaissance Italy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        A collection of seven essays, two of which address issues of crime: in one, first published in Italian in 1991, he argues that women’s access to the courts for offenses against themselves decreased markedly between the mid-14th and mid-15th centuries; in another he places the prosecution of sex crimes in the countryside into the context of Florentine control of its territory.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Gonthier, Nicole. “Délinquantes ou victimes, les femmes dans la société lyonnaise du XVe siècle.” Revue Historique 271 (1984): 25–46.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Working from a register of fines paid from 1427–1442, this article classifies the types of crimes (mainly theft and petty violence), the types of female criminals (notable is the presence of servants), and female victims (mostly violence and rape).

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Pardon

                                                                                                                                                                                          In areas where trial records do not survive (and even in areas where they do), the study of petitions for pardon, and the subsequent “letters of remission” from the governing authorities, has proved a particularly fruitful one in the historiography. The largest and best of these studies is that by Gauvard 1991 (see under Studies at a National Level). Bourin and Chevalier 1981 is cited here as an early example of the use of these sources for the history of crime and criminals. That focus was soon overlaid with more literary concerns with self-presentation, as in Davis 1987 and Gonthier 1990. Paresys 1998 takes a different approach, relating pardons to urban and royal policies. As most of this research is written up in French, Potter 1997 is included as a useful discussion in English of both the historiography and a specific sample.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bourin, M., and B. Chevalier. “Les comportements criminels dans les pays de la Loire moyenne d’après les letters de rémission (vers 1380–vers 1450).” Annales de Bretagne 88 (1981): 245–263.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.3406/abpo.1981.3050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            An early but still instructive study of pardons for crime. The authors take over a thousand pardons and analyze the profile of both crimes (types, times, places) and criminals (sex, age, status, social location of dispute).

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Davis, Natalie Zemon. Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales in Sixteenth-Century France. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Fundamental examination of the story-telling techniques of petitioners for pardon for murder. Distinguishes men’s voices from women’s by “complexity and texture.” Places them alongside works of literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gonthier, Nicole. “La rémission des crimes à Dijon sous les ducs Valois.” Cahiers d’histoire 35 (1990): 99–118.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines how those who petitioned the dukes of Burgundy for pardon for serious crimes presented themselves and their actions and how the dukes responded.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Paresys, Isabelle. Au marges du royaume: Violence, justice et société en Picardie sous François Ier. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  A significant three-part study of justice in Picardy: the profile of criminals pardoned by the king (actors and actions, time and space, tensions and solidarities), the evolution of law enforcement in Amiens (increasing use of the “penal armory”), and the role of pardoning in the royal frontier policy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Potter, David. “‘Rigueur de justice’: Crime, Murder and the Law in Picardy, Fifteenth to Sixteenth Centuries.” French History 11 (1997): 265–309.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/fh/11.3.265Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Includes a useful survey of the French scholarship on royal pardon letters, and then surveys those from Picardy, focusing on violent confrontations between males and the ways in which these are described (settings, triggers, motivations, status).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Penal Servitude

                                                                                                                                                                                                    At the end of this period, governments began experimenting with penal servitude on the galleys as a form of punishment. Pike 1983 is cited as study in English of this phenomenon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pike, Ruth. Penal Servitude in Early-Modern Spain. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      This study is focused mainly on the 17th and 18th centuries, but the first chapter provides background for the progressive extension, from 1530, of galley service for convicts: this service was first used for gypsies and vagabonds, then for dice makers, procurers, and blasphemers before being generalized.

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