The Death Penalty in Late-Medieval Catalonia : Evidence and Significations book cover
1st Edition

The Death Penalty in Late-Medieval Catalonia
Evidence and Significations

ISBN 9781032089546
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
400 Pages

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Book Description

The death penalty was unusual in medieval Europe until the twelfth century. From that moment on, it became a key instrument of rule in European society, and we can study it in the case of Catalonia through its rich and varied unpublished documentation. The death penalty was justified by Roman Law; accepted by Theology and Philosophy for the Common Good; and used by rulers as an instrument for social intimidation. The application of the death penalty followed a regular trial, and the status of the individual dictated the method of execution, reserving the fire for the worst crimes, as the Inquisition applied against the so-called heretics. The executions were public, and the authorities and the people shared the common goal of restoring the will of God which had been broken by the executed person. The death penalty took an important place in the core of the medieval mind: people included executions in the jokes and popular narratives while the gallows filled the landscape fitting the jurisdictional limits and, also, showing rotten corpses to assert that the best way to rule and order the society is by terror.

This book utilises previously unpublished archival sources to present a unique study on the death penalty in late Medieval Europe.

Table of Contents


List of abbreviations

Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: Precedent times: The Early-Medieval Justice Before Major Crimes

Chapter Three: Sovereignty and merum imperium

Chapter Four: The Symbology of the Gallows: Jurisdiction and Terror

Chapter Five: The Death Penalty in the ‘plenitudo potestatis’

Chapter Six: The Death Penalty in the Non-Royal Jurisdictions

Chapter Seven: The Death Penalty in the Legislation and Municipal Capitality

Chapter Eight: The Death Penalty in Ordinary Justice

Chapter Nine: The Death Sentences

Chapter Ten: The Application of the Death Penalty: The Ceremony of Execution

Chapter Eleven: The Application of the Death Penalty: The Display of the Body

Chapter Twelve: The Application of the Death Penalty: Punishment by Fire

Chapter Thirteen: More Fire: The Inquisition and the Death Penalty

Chapter Fourteen: The Death Penalty and Otherness: Jews and Muslims Before the Death Penalty

Chapter Fifteen: The Death Penalty in the Mind

Chapter Sixteen: The Death Penalty in the Paths to Consolidate Power and Social Cohesion

Chapter Seventeen: The Death Penalty at the End of the Middle Ages in the Tense Catalonia

Chapter Eighteen: Conclusions



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Flocel Sabaté is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Lleida, Spain and Doctor Honoris Causa of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina. He is director of the journal Imago Temporis Medium Aevum and president of the Association of the Historians of the Crown of Aragon. He has served as a guest professor in universities and research centres as Concepción, ENS (Lyon), JSPS (Tokyo), Lisboa, Mexico, Paris-1, Poitiers, and Yale.