The Monday Book: Witness Protection, Baroque Style ; Love and Death in Renaissance Italy Thomas V Cohen University of Chicago Press, Pounds 19.50
Colvin, Clare, The Independent (London, England)
THERE WAS a column in a London evening newspaper entitled "Courts Day by Day": a sketch of the most colourful cases. The historian Thomas V Cohen has achieved something similar with the courts of Renaissance Italy, aided by the meticulously preserved State Archive of Rome.
The criminal courts run by the governor of Rome dealt with crimes ranging from murder and treason to minor brawls and taking whores to wine shops. The richest of the archives were the processi, where an examining magistrate investigated suspects and witnesses behind closed doors, releasing a transcript to defence and prosecution lawyers.
To become enmeshed by the law in Renaissance Italy could be as harrowing for witnesses as suspects. In 1577, a young woman, Lucretia Gramar, her two sisters and her father were all jailed for three months during the trial of the former chief prosecutor of the Papal State, Alessandro Pallantieri, who had n raped and impregnated her. Cross- examination included the torture of being hanged by the arms. This, Cohen says, was helpful in that the evidence affirmed under torture was strengthened, adding in a comment Donald Rumsfeld might have approved: "To further their case and help her prove her point, the judges did her a favour: they strung her up."
Pallantieri appears, before his fall, as the judge in a case of double murder. Giovanni Battista Savelli, lord of Cretone, …
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Publication information: Article title: The Monday Book: Witness Protection, Baroque Style ; Love and Death in Renaissance Italy Thomas V Cohen University of Chicago Press, Pounds 19.50. Contributors: Colvin, Clare - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 2, 2004. Page number: 30. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.