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Seminar Questions

  • How far did forms of justice change during the early modern period?
  • How significant was the role of torture in early modern trials?
  • What did early modern executions seek to convey to their audience?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of judicial records for an understanding of early modern violence?

Required Reading

All students should read

Ruff, Julius R., Violence in Early Modern Europe 1500-1800 (Cambridge, 2001), Chapter 3


Mantecon, Tomas A., 'Justice and the Confines of the Law in Early Modern Spain', in Griet Vermeesch, Manon van der Heijden, and Jaco Zuijderduijn, eds, The Uses of Justice in Global Perspective, 1600-1900 (London, 2019), pp. 165-182.

AND one of the following items:


Further Reading

Arnade, Peter, and Walter Prevenier, Honor, Vengeance, and Social Trouble: Pardon Letters in the Burgundian Low Countries (Ithaca, NY, 2015)

Astarita, Tommaso, Village Justice: Community, Family, and Popular Culture in Early Modern Italy (Baltimore, 1999)

Bailey, Joanne, and Loreen Giese, 'Marital cruelty: reconsidering lay attitudes in England, c. 1580 to 1850', The History of the Family 18 (2013), 289-305

Barahona, Renato, Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain: Vizcaya, 1528-1735 (Toronto, 2003)

Billaçois, François, The Duel: Its Rise and Fall in Early Modern France, trans. Trista Selous (New Haven, 1990)

Boes, Maria R., Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Germany: courts and adjudicatory practices in Frankfurt am Main, 1562-1696 (Farnham, 2013)

Brown, Keith, M., Bloodfeud in Scotland 1573-1625: Violence, Justice and Politics in an Early Modern Society (Edinburgh, 1986)

Carroll, Stuart, Blood and Violence in Early Modern France (Oxford, 2006)

Carroll, Stuart, ed., Cultures of Violence: Interpersonal Violence in Historical Perspective (Basingstoke, 2007)

Carroll, Stuart, 'Revenge and Reconciliation in Early Modern Italy', Past & Present 233/1 (2016),101–142.

Cohen, Paul, 'Torture and Translation in the Multilingual Courtrooms of Early Modern France', Renaissance Quarterly 69/3 (2016), 899-939

Cohen, Thomas V., Love and Death in Renaissance Italy (Chicago, 2004)

Cohen, Thomas V., and Elizabeth S. Cohen, Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome: Trials before Papal Magistrates (Toronto, 1993)

Davis, Natalie Zemon, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France (Cambridge, 1987)

Dülmen, Richard van, Theatre of Horror: Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Germany, trans. Elisabeth Neu (Oxford, 1990)

Durston, Gregory J., Whores and Highwaymen: Crime and Justice in the Eighteenth-Century Metropolis (Hook, 2012)

Evans, Richard J., Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany, 1600-1987 (Oxford, 1996)

Faggion, Lucien, 'Violence, Rites and Social Regulation in the Venetian Terra Firma in the Sixteenth Century', in Jonathan Davies (ed.), Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe (Farnham, 2013), pp. 185-204.

Faggion, Lucien, and Christophe Regina, eds, Récit et justice (France, Italie, Espagne, XIVe-XIXe siècles) (Aix-en-Provence, 2014)

Farr, James R., A Tale of Two Murders: Passion and Power in Seventeenth-Century France (Durham, NC, 2005)

Friedland, Paul, Seeing Justice Done: The Age of Spectacular Capital Punishment in France (Oxford, 2012)

Gaskill, Malcolm, Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2000)

Geltner, Guy, The Medieval Prison: A Social History (Princeton, 2008)

Greenshields, Malcolm, An Economy of Violence in Early Modern France: Crime and Justice in the Haute Auvergne, 1587-1664 (University Park, PA, 1994)

Harrington, Joel F., The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century (New York, 2014)

Hitchcock, Tim, and Robert Shoemaker, Tales from the Hanging Court (London, 2006)

Hughes, Steven C., 'Soldiers and Gentlemen: The Rise of the Duel in Renaissance Italy', Journal of Medieval Military History 5 (2007), 99–152.

Kiernan. V.G., The Duel in European History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy (Oxford, 1988)

Klemp, P. J., The Theatre of Death: Rituals of Justice from the English Civil Wars to the Restoration (London, 2016)

Kollmann, Nancy, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (Cambridge, 2012)

Lidman, Satu, 'Violence or justice? Gender-specific structures and strategies in early modern Europe', The History of the Family 18 (2013), 238-60.

Lord Smail, Daniel, 'Violence and Predation in Late Medieval Mediterranean Europe', Comparative Studies in Society and History 54/1 (2012), 7–34.

MacMillan, Ken, (ed.), Stories of True Crime in Tudor and Stuart England (London, 2015)

Madden, Amanda G., '"Una causa civile": Vendetta Violence and Governing Elites in Early-Modern Modena', in Jonathan Davies (ed.), Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe (Farnham, 2013), pp. 205-223.

Merback, Mitchell B., The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel: Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe (London, 2001)

Muir, Edward, Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta in Renaissance Italy (Baltimore, 1998)

Muravyeva, Marianna, '"A king in his own household": domestic discipline and family violence in early modern Europe reconsidered', The History of the Family 18 (2103), 227-37

Muravyeva, Marianna, '"Till Death Us Do Part": spousal homicide in early modern Russia', The History of the Family 18 (2013), 306-30

Peltonen, Markku, The Duel in Early Modern England. Civility, Politeness and Honour (Cambridge, 2003)

Perry, Mary Elizabeth, Crime and Society in Early Modern Seville (Hanover, NH, 1980)

Peters, Edward, Torture (Philadelphia, 1996)

Povolo, Claudio, 'Liturgies of Violence: Social Control and Power Relationships in the Republic of Venice between the 16th and 18th Centuries', in Eric R. Dursteler (ed.), A Companion to Venetian History 1400-1797 (Leiden, 2013), pp. 513-42. Brill e-book

Quint, David, ‘Duelling and Civility in Sixteenth-Century Italy’, I Tatti Studies 7 (1997), 231-275.

Roodenburg, Herman, and Pieter Spierenburg, eds, Social Control in Europe: 1500-1800 (Ohio, 2004)

Rose, Colin, '“To be remedied of any vendetta” : Petitions and the Avoidance of Violence in early modern Parma', Crime, History and Socieities 16/2 (2012), 5-27.

Rowbotham, Judith, et al. (eds), Shame, Blame, and Culpability: Crime and Violence in the Modern State (London, 2014)

Schmidt, Franz, A Hangman's Diary: The Journal of Master Franz Schmidt, Public Executioner of Nuremberg, 1573-1617, ed. Albrecht Keller, trans. C.V. Calvert and A. W. Gruner, with an introductory essay by C. Calvert (London, 1928)

Silverman, Lisa, Tortured Subjects: Pain, Truth, and the Body in Early Modern France (Chicago, 2001)

Spierenburg, Pieter, The Prison Experience: Disciplinary Institutions and their Inmates in Early Modern Europe (New Brunswick, 1991)

Spierenburg, Pieter, The Spectacle of Suffering: Executions and the Evolution of Repression from a Preindustrial Metropolis to the European Experience (Cambridge, 1984)

Spierenburg, Pieter, Violence and Punishment: Civilizing the Body Through Time (Cambridge, 2013)

Stolleis, Michael, et al, eds, Policey im Europa der frühen Neuzeit (Frankfurt am Main, 1996)

Tersptra, Nicholas, The Art of Executing Well (Kirksville, 2008)

Toivo, Raisa Maria, 'Violence between parents and children: courts of law in early modern Finland', The History of the Family 18 (2013), 331-48

Zmora, Hillary, State and Nobility in Early Modern Germany: The Knightly Feud in Franconia, 1440-1567 (Cambridge, 1997)