Crime and Justice in Late Medieval Italy by Trevor Dean

By Trevor Dean

During this very important learn, Trevor Dean examines the background of crime and felony justice in Italy from the mid-thirteenth to the top of the 15th century. The e-book includes reports of the main common kinds of prosecuted crime equivalent to violence, robbery and insult, besides the infrequently prosecuted sorcery and intercourse crimes.

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Fols. 168v–169v. , nos. 10. Atti maleficiorum, buste 44 and 45 (1476, 1480–3). R. Muchembled, Le temps des supplices: de l’ob´eissance sous les rois absolus, XVe–XVIIIe si`ecle (Paris, 1992). ASBo, Comune, Curia del Podest`a, Inquisitiones, busta 172, reg. 14, fols 14, 19. 92 All the other criminal cases were initiated either by a denunciation by local officials or by the judge ex officio. As a result, the pattern of prosecution is very different: less insult, more theft and robbery; more crimes against the judicial apparatus (jail-breaking, resisting arrest, false testimony) and against the regime (conspiracy, political speech crimes).

15, pt 6 (Bologna, 1931– ), p. 598. Dean, Crime in Medieval Europe, pp. 15–16. 26 Crime and justice in late medieval Italy Strategies in the court-room could vary from place to place. In some cities, the use of attorneys (procuratores) to present the defence case was more common than in others. In Bologna, well supplied with trained lawyers, it was more frequent than in Lucca, where defendants tended to defend themselves. 43 We should not, however, assume that defendants in Milan or Lucca lacked knowledge of the law.

Rumours were thus circulating in the neighbourhood – and based on what must have seemed trustworthy sources – that a murder had taken place. And what was the source of these rumours? Jacoba’s mother, everyone agreed. Unwilling or unable to bring an accusation or to prompt an official denunciation, the dead woman’s mother spread talk naming Francesco as Jacoba’s killer. Was she relying on fama to do the work of informing the judge? Unfortunately for her, this information was passed to the judge by men who could be impugned as unreliable, showing how official justice could be shaped by local enmities.

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