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This has provoked a debate among Italian historians: for Sbriccoli, case studies are fragile testimony, having the fascination of the unusual, but with the risk of descending into unhistorical belles-lettres, easy to read but unrepresentative and limited;10 for Grendi they represent normal historical method, in the selection and presentation of specific evidence. But the problem is also deeper: trial records are usually the only evidence we have that a particular criminal event took place.

In this they are unlike other historical 'facts', which the historian approaches through a variety 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 J.

Diritto 13 Storia dello stato italiano: la democrazia repubblicana. Cittadinanza e Costituzione

Kirshner, 'Some problems in the interpretation of legal texts re the Italian citystates', Archivfiir Begriffsgeschichte, 19 Beattie, in review of J. Nye, 'Crime in modern societies', p. Pinto, 'Un vagabondo, ladro e truffatore nella Toscana della seconda meta del ' Sandro di Vanni detto Pescione', Ricerche storiche, n. Pinto 'Controllo politico e ordine pubblico nei primi vicariati fiorentini: gli "Atti criminali degli ufficiali forensi"', Quaderni storici, 49 Sbriccoli, 'Fonti giudiziarie e fonti giuridiche.

Riflessioni sulla fase attuale degli studi di storia del crimine e della giustizia criminale', Studi storici, 29 Grendi, 'Sulla "storia criminale": risposta a Mario Sbriccoli', Quaderni storici, 73 This means that a proper interpretation and context of criminal events has to be provided in other ways, for example through the study of specific crimes and their prosecution over an extended period, or of the relationship between criminal justice and the political regime.

For the reader to gauge the value of these different methods, writing of various types is included here. Some of our authors Weinstein, Lombardi, Fasano Guarini use the case study to explore specific forms of crime or violence. Others Dean, Zorzi relate the administration of justice to social and political developments, or see the construction of specific crimes or offences in new contexts Lowe, Rossi, Kovesi Killerby.

Also represented in the articles collected here is an almost full range of stages in the penal process, from the definition of offences and the legislation of penalties Fasano Guarini, Lombardi, Kovesi Killerby , to the action of the courts Dean, Zorzi , the collection of fines and compositions Ryder and the rounding up of bandits Laven.

There is also attention to extra-judicial forms of dispute and punishment, such as vendetta and duel Weinstein, Bianco, Dean, Zorzi. In other words, the focus of these pieces is more on process than on product, less on counting crimes than on placing violence and prosecution in context. This reflects the advance of the historiography, for, as Allegra has rightly observed, the many studies of criminal records in European states and cities of the late medieval and early modern periods have produced results that are by now merely repetitive and thoroughly predictable the predominance of crimes against the person murder, assault, affray over crimes against property theft, burglary ; the judicial dependence on occasional acts of terror executions and mutilations and on money penalties, rarely fully collected; the generation of huge numbers of bandits, that is, those who refused to appear in court when summoned on criminal charges and who were consequently banned; the small number of women prosecuted, and the specific features of female crime fighting with hands and finger-nails, insult ; the availability of easy acquittal and frequent pardon or amnesty.

Explanations for this picture have also become predictable: the extreme frequency of violent crimes is explained by the extremely violent tenor of everyday life, by low emotional thresholds and by universal and continuous carrying of weapons. It was 'a world of thin 12 L. Allegra, 'Oltre le fonti criminali: Chieri nel '', Quaderni storicU 49 ; and cf. Writing the history of crime 5 skins, short fuses and physical violence5,13 'a society easy to come to blows',14 'an age characterized by rapid resort to violence'.

Bonfiglio Dosio, 'Criminalita', p. Bowsky, 'The medieval commune and internal violence: police power and public safety in Siena, ', American Historical Review, 73 , 3. Bachrach and D. Nicholas Kalamazoo, , p. Bourin and B. Chevalier, 'Le comportement criminel dans les pays de la Loire moyenne, d'apres les lettres de remission vers - vers , Annales de Bretagne, 88 , Fouret, 'L'amour, la violence et le pouvoir: la criminalite a Douai de ', Revue du Nord, 66 , Use of this word has been robustly criticized in P.

Roque Ferer, 'L'infrazione della legge a Cagliari dal al ', Quaderni sardi distoria, 5 , 9. It is customary for historians to cite here N. Elias, Uber den Prozess der Zivilisation Basel, , in its various translations e. The Civilising Process Oxford, Farge and A.

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See D. Weinstein in this volume. Witthoft, 'Marriage rituals and marriage chests in Quattrocento Florence', Artibus et historiae, 5 , In this way, trial records are bound to make violence seem impulsive. Such historians also imply that spontaneous violence, triggered by trifles, is a historical phenomenon, entirely unknown in the 'civilized' modern world, and thus constitutes a defining feature of difference between medieval and modern.

Lastly, and obviously, their generalization is too glib, from individual cases, or a small series in a limited period, to 'the world' and 'the age'. We know that we should not take trial records too literally. Two 'distorting' practices in particular drew the attention of contemporaries: calumny and bribery. These may be called 'abuses', but only if we are certain that the courts normally operated in a legitimate and ethical way. The frequency with which some preachers addressed problems of calumny, false denunciation and perjury do suggest a serious problem. In mid-fourteenth-century Florence, two local district officials were prosecuted for denouncing an innocent innkeeper with assault, and for collecting money from his enemies; two others concealed crimes for money.

In Siena in , the burden suffered by individuals and communities in the contado from officers and especially constables sbirri who 'corrode and destroy' them34 was said to be 'intolerable'. To contadini such profiteering was seen as robbery: 'You are robbing 29 30 31 32 33 34 H. Manikowska, '"Accorr'uomo": il "popolo" nelFamministrazione della giustizia a Firenze durante il XIV secolo', Ricerche storiche, 18 , Verga, 'Sentenze', pp.

Brucker, Renaissance Florence New York, , p. Storie pistoresi, ed. Barbi, in Rerum italicarum scriptores, 2nd edn, XI, pt 5, pp.

Ascheri and E. Ottaviani, ' L e provvisioni della raccolta "Statuti 2 3 " 1 3 2 3 - 3 9 dell'Archivio di Stato di Siena', Bullettino senese di storia patria, 88 , Writing the history of crime 7 me and would do better to go and rob on the highway', exclaimed one contadino in resisting a Perugian vicario. Nevertheless, that system did mix private profit and public ideals in ways that are unacceptable to modern pre-Thatcherite mentalities: privately run prisons, officials and informers who received fixed percentages of fines, rewards for killing or arresting bandits, taxfarmers who both collected levies on licensed activities gambling, prostitution and reported unlicensed practitioners.

Justice was a resource, but its profits were more widely shared. Beccaria was closer to the mark when he objected that, under such a profit-sharing system, officials, 'who were appointed to defend public security, had an interest in it being violated'. The adage presumably referred primarily to civil suits.

Beccaria, Dei delitti e delle pene, section Chiffoleau, Les justices des papes: delinquance et criminalite dans la region d3 Avignon au XlVe siecle Paris, , pp. Beccaria, ibid. Parker, The Dutch Revolt 2nd edn, Harmondsworth, , p. Justice was a key quality in medieval ideals of governance, and all states sought to wrap themselves in its robes, just as their opponents sought to expose their injustice. The growth of public structures in the thirteenth century, in justice as in many other spheres,43 had enormously expanded the state's rights and powers as regards the prosecution and punishment of crime.

The state took over the prosecutorial role, previously reserved to individuals through private accusation. In some cities, accusation was rare already by the early fourteenth century,44 though in others it still supplied a considerable proportion of cases in the early fifteenth century. The unmistakable trend was away from private composition and towards penalty. Clear rules and practices were also established to prevent the sort of cementation of judicial power in the hands of the local aristocracy, as developed in England the employment on six-month terms of foreign podestd; the statutory prohibition of their reappointment, and of their development of personal relations with citizens; the requirement of end-of-term review syndication , in which complaints against their administration could be heard.

Public duty as regards crime was also extended down to the lowest units of civic administration: local householders had the obligation to pursue and apprehend those committing crimes in their neighbourhoods, and could be fined for negligence or failure; local district officials had the duty of reporting all serious crimes to the podestd. However, from the mid fourteenth century, if not before, this ideal system, as articulated in late thirteenth-century city statutes, appar43 44 45 46 47 For a succinct survey, see P.

Jones, 'From commune to despot: the city state in late medieval Italy', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 15 Pene Vidari, 'Sulla criminalita e sui banni del comune di Ivrea nei primi anni della dominazione sabauda ', Bollettino storico-bibliografico subalpino, 68 , ; S.

Ikins Stern, 'Inquisition procedure and crime in early fifteenth-century Florence', Law and History Review', 8 , Becker, 'Changing patterns of violence and justice in fourteenth- and fifteenthcentury Florence', Comparative Studies in Society and History, 18 , ; Blanshei, 'Crime and law enforcement', pp.

Kaeuper, War, Justice and Public Order, pp. Writing the history of crime 9 ently began to crumble. Podesta were routinely reappointed. Although enforcement remained less than perfect in practice, the definition of criminal acts continued to be the preserve of individual governments, who attempted to identify anti-social or deviant behaviour and to pre-empt disorder by the enactment of new laws or the reiteration of old ones. But in many cases the enforcement of these laws was dependent on two other groups: the people at large, who were responsible for setting the procedure in train by denouncing the guilty parties, and the officials of the criminal justice system, whose task it was to prosecute offenders.

As will be seen, ordinary people were capable of articulating their preferences and priorities by failing to denounce when they considered the likely penalty to be too harsh; and, as has already been seen, the administrators of justice were only too fallible. These two groups were thus capable of frustrating both the aims of the laws themselves and the sentencing policies of governments. It is important, therefore, that individual crimes are studied in this context. Recent developments as regards subject-matter mean that 48 49 50 51 See, for example, at Padua, the confirmation of podesta for successive terms from the s onwards: Liber regiminum Padue, in Rerum italicarum scriptores, ed.

Muratori, VIII, coll. The change was associated, of course, with the formation o f signorie. Zorzi, 'I Fiorentini e gli uffici pubblici nel primo Quattrocento: concorrenza, abusi, illegalita', Quaderni storici, 66 Syndication was usually routine, with no complaint either heard or proved: e. For examples of limitation or dispensation: Statuti di Como: volumen magnum, ed. Manganelli 2 vols.

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C 5, fols. See below, pp. Antonelli, 'La magistratura degli Otto di guardia a Firenze', Archivio storico italiano, Bandi lucchesi del secolo decimoquarto, ed.

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Bongi Bologna, , pp. Information on these crimes is interesting not only in itself, but also for what we learn of other, related subjects, such as notions of masculinity and women's position as catalysts for crime. One salient omission from the volume Violence and Civil Disorder was female criminality. In other parts of Europe,52 this has been studied rather more broadly than in Italy.

The first is that between crimes in which women were personally involved, and crimes for which they were the catalysts. In mid fifteenth-century Bologna, as elsewhere, the former category exceeded the latter by far: crimes of violence against women were prosecuted with some frequency, and included reportedly brutal rapes and attacks on prostitutes, as well as excessive wife-battering. It is also important to distinguish various types of crime or offence for which women were prosecuted.

Whereas women were prosecuted far less frequently than men for crimes of violence or larceny, in the area of sex crime the proportions begin to even up. Hanawalt, 'The female felon in fourteenth-century England', Viator, 5 ; N. Gonthier, 'Delinquantes ou victimes, les femmes dans la societe lyonnaise du XVe siecle', Revue historique, ; A.

Finch, 'Women and violence in the later Middle Ages: the evidence of the officially of Cerisy', Continuity and Change, 7 Dosio, 'Criminalita', pp. Mazzi, 'Cronache di periferia dello stato fiorentino: reati contro la morale nel primo Quattrocento', Studi storici, 27 ; I. Walter, 'Infanticidio a Fonte Bocci: 2 marzo Elementi di un processo', ibid.