Public justice and the criminal trial in late medieval Italy : Reggio Emilia in the Visconti age


Public justice and the criminal trial in late medieval Italy : Reggio Emilia in the Visconti age

by Joanna Carraway Vitiello

(Medieval law and its practice, v. 20)

Brill, c2016

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Bibliography: p. [205]-215

Includes indexes



In Public Justice and the Criminal Trial in Late Medieval Italy: Reggio Emilia in the Visconti Age, Joanna Carraway Vitiello examines the criminal trial at the end of the fourteenth century. Inquisition procedure, in which a powerful judge largely controlled the trial process, was in regular use in the criminal court at Reggio. Yet during the period considered in this study, technical procedural developments combined with the political realities of the town to create a system of justice that prosecuted crime but also encouraged dispute resolution. Following the stages of the process, including investigation, denunciation, the weighing of evidence, and the verdict, this study investigates the court's complex role as a vehicle for both personal justice and prosecution in the public interest.


Contents Acknowledgements ix Abbreviations xi Introduction Justice, Power, and Context 1 Inquisition, Authority, and Adaptation 2 Local Variations in Criminal Procedures 6 Late Medieval Justice: A Case Study 9 1 Power, Jurisdiction, and Criminal Investigation 13 The Signore and the Law at Reggio Emilia 22 Municipal Statutes 23 Foreign Rectors 25 1 Office of the Podesta at Reggio Emilia 26 2 The Criminal Judge 31 3 Notaries of the Criminal Court 35 4 Other Foreign Officials 36 The Lords of the Contado and the Question of Jurisdiction 37 Criminal Jurisdiction and the Reporting of Crime 42 Apprehension of Malefactors 50 2 The Formation of a Criminal Inquisition 54 The Use of Private Accusatio Procedure at Reggio 55 Inquisitions ex officio 56 Public Officials and the Initiation of Inquisition Trials 65 Inquisitions Initiated by Private Parties 66 Features of the Inquisitio ex querela 67 The Narrative of the Crime 82 Citation 84 The Trial Process 85 3 Fama, Notoriety, and the Due Process of Law 88 Fama, Public Knowledge, and Proof 89 Semel malus, semper malus? The Presumption of Innocence and Mala Fama 96 Ordinem iudiciarium non servare, est iuris ordinem servare: Notoriety and Due Process 104 4 Proofs, Defenses, and the Determination of Guilt or Innocence 114 Full and Certain Proof: Confession and the Problem of Torture 115 Testimony and Witnesses 123 Medical Evidence and Expert Testimony 127 Protections in Municipal Law and the Right to a Defense 133 Responses: Confessions, Denials, and Exceptions 135 Fama and the Defense 136 5 Resolutions: Conviction, Absolution, and Mitigation 147 The Weighing of the Evidence: Statutory Proofs vs. Judicial Discretion 149 Contumacy, Conviction in absentia, and the Criminal Ban 151 Judicial Discretion in Punishment 157 Pecuniary Punishments 163 Shaming Punishments, Corporal Punishments and Capital Punishments 164 Incarceration 167 Capital Punishments 173 Mitigation and Instrumenta Pacis 177 Signorial Participation in the Administration of Justice: Instruction, Cancellations, and Pardons 192 Gratia and the Cancellation of Proceedings 197 Conclusion 202 Bibliography 205 Index of Names 216 Index of Places 217 Index of Subjects 218

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