Louis A. Knafla
The three topics of this volume represent a major area of the historiography of crime and criminal justice in the 1990s. Indeed, class, gender, and sexuality have become hallmarks of the humanities and the social sciences. Much of the theory has come from the disciplines of anthropology, law, literature, and sociology. Much of the hard research has come from historians, from both the traditional and the new social or cultural history adherents. The chapters contained here comprise case studies of class, gender, and sexuality from late medieval Europe to early twentieth-century India. They address some of the critical questions of the historiography, and they are often written within the context of race, violence, politics, and the nation-state.
Trevor Dean examines how the statutes of the city of Bologna concerning vendetta, 1288–1454, were applied judicially between families and the state down into the sixteenth century. The statutes, by 1454, placed heavy penalties against attackers, which increased if revenge could be proved as a motive. Revenge taken quickly or slightly delayed brought swift prosecution when the evidence was readily apparent. While local nobles might find ways of lightly punishing or excusing vendetta, foreign judges who headed the civic judiciary prosecuted them regardless of past relations or conflicts between the parties. In addition, acts of pacification became legally required by the mid–fifteenth century before convicted offenders could have their bans lifted and return to the community, particularly with regard to male offenders. Reforming churchmen, noble patrons, and government officials keen to reduce the level of violent crime were prominent in shaping this policy.
The chapter raises many questions concerning the role of families, men, and women in the developing criminal justice system of Italian city-states in late medieval and renaissance Europe. Examining a full range of local