Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Punishments III


Our investigation of forms of punishments concludes with a discussion of branding, mutilation, and whipping, and of execution. We will also consider ways in which punishments were 'spectacular' and the possible motives for these. We will divide into groups to look at Britain, France, the German and Scandinavian states, the Italian states, and Russia.

Seminar Questions

  • How were branding, mutilation, and whipping used as punishments across early modern Europe? What were contemporary attitudes to them?
  • To what extent did the uses of execution vary across early modern Europe? What were contemporary attitudes to them?
  • How and why were punishments 'spectacular'? What messages did these punishments send?

Required Reading

  • You should each read Andrew Barrett and Christopher Harrison, eds, Crime and Punishment in England: A Sourcebook (London, 1999), pp. 41, 45, 47, 48, 53-56, 59, 60, 62, 64, 111, 113-116, 128, 147-149, 153, 158-159, 164, 171, 181.
  • You should also each choose and read two articles or book chapters from the following items for the state(s) you are studying.

Geltner, Guy, Flogging Others: Corporal Punishment and Cultural Identity from Antiquity to the Present (Amsterdam, 2014)

Tarlow, Sarah, and Emma Battell Lowman, Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse (New York, 2018)

Ward, Richard, ed., A Global History of Execution and the Criminal Corpse (London, 2015)


Beattie, J. M., Policing and Punishment in London, 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror (Oxford , 2001)

Hurren, Elizabeth T., Dissecting the Criminal Corpse: Staging Post-Execution Punishment in Early Modern England (London, 2016)

King, Peter, Punishing the Criminal Corpse, 1700-1840: Aggravated Forms of the Death Penalty in England (London, 2017)

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

Tarlow, Sarah, The Golden and Ghoulish Age of the Gibbet in Britain (London, 2017)


Friedland, Paul, 'Penance, Compensation, Terror: The Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in Early Modern France', in Judith Rowbotham, Marianna Muravyeva, and David Nash, eds, Shame, Blame, and Culpability: Crime and Violence in the Modern State (Abingdon, 2014), pp. 111-123.

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

The German and Scandinavian States

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

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

Harrington, Joel F., The Executioner's Journal: Meister Frantz Schmidt of the Imperial City of Nuremberg (Charlottesville, VA, 2016)

Luef, Evelyne, 'Punishment Post Mortem – The Crime of Suicide in Early Modern Austria and Sweden' in Abrecht Classen and Connie Scarborough, eds, Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age: Mental-Historical Investigations of Basic Human Problems and Social Responses (Berlin, 2012), pp. 555-576.

Riisoy, Anne Irene, Sexuality, Law and Legal Practice and the Reformation in Norway (Leiden, 2009), Chapter Four.

Schmidt, Franz, A Hangman's Diary: The Journal of Master Franz Schmidt, Public Executioner of Nuremberg, 1573-1617, ed. Albrecht Keller, trans. C. Calvert and A.W. Gruner (New York, 2015)

The Italian States

Baker, Nicholas Scott, 'For Reasons of State: Political Executions, Republicanism, and the Medici in Florence, 1480–1560', Renaissance Quarterly 62(2), (2009), 444-478.

Guerra, Enrico, 'Legal Homicide: The Death Penalty in the Italian Renaissance', in Trevor Dean and K. J. P. Lowe, eds, Murder in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge, 2017), pp. 269-288.

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


Kollmann, Nancy Shields, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (Cambridge, 2015), Chapters Nine, Ten, Thirteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen.