“Questa turba infame a comun danno unita”. Delinquenti, marginali, magistrati nel Mantovano asburgico (1750-1800)

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Abstract

This study examines the structures and the considerable changes that took place in the criminal justice system in the City of Mantua and its province, a territory comprising about 200,000 inhabitants in the second half of 18th century, from the reign of Maria Theresa to which of emperor Francis II: that was an eventful stretch of time, till the revolutionary French occupation of Northern Italy (1796-1800). It starts with a general survey of the radical reforms of justice carried out in Austrian Lombardy, including the restructuring of Courts – from the Supreme Council of Justice to others crown Courts, judges and their police forces – and the adoption of a new regulation for criminal trials in 1786. A prosopographic investigation let the author to rough out the careers of magistrates, both nobles and commoners. Based on rich archival sources, the historical analysis depicts the range of crimes brought to trials and of the punishments inflicted. In 1784 torture and capital punishment are abolished by Joseph II, while modern prisons begin to be enabled. The author also illustrates the working of criminal procedure, policing institutions and personal data of offenders and lower people under prosecution. Many individual criminal cases and the statistical tables periodically drawn up by judges direct our attention to the underlying social and economic problems, as the growth of vagrancy, theft, robbery shows. Offenses against property, particularly, tend to grow in number; they are usually committed by poor peasants, handworkers, but sometimes by gangs or, not infrequently, even by watches of the Courts. Begging is more and more widespread, violence is rife in families and communities. Riots are not frequents, but sometimes they go off especially against Jewish minorities, as in 1754, 1759, 1790-92. In spite of the shortage in bureaucratic and police personnel, in the last two decades considered the Mantua magistracy swiftly deals with a growing number of trials (several thousands) and succeeds in coping with crime without giving up respect for procedure and for the basic rights of defendants. The last chapter, devoted to compare Mantua case to other Italians and Europeans during the same period, demonstrates similarities and differences, in various fields regarding criminal laws and types of illegalities. The overall, in-depth analysis of such occurrences allows the author to revise some stereotypes in literature and historiography about crime and punishment in the Ancien Régime.
Titolo tradotto del contributo[Autom. eng. transl.] "This infamous crowd to joint damage together." Delinquents, marginals, magistrates in the Habsburg Mantovano (1750-1800)
Lingua originaleItalian
EditoreFranco Angeli
Numero di pagine216
ISBN (stampa)978-88-204-8487-3
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014

Serie di pubblicazioni

NomeStoria/Studi e ricerche

Keywords

  • Crime and punishment, Mantua 18th century
  • Criminal justice, Lombardy 18th century
  • Criminalità, Lombardia Austriaca
  • Giustizia penale XVIII secolo
  • Justice reforms in Austrian Lombardy

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