Wednesday 24 March 2021
11.00 - 12.15
Entangled Normativity: Early Modern Police (1500-1800s).
Kevin Dekoster :
For the Benefit of Justice. Medical Practitioners and their Contributions to the Administration of Criminal Justice in Early Modern Ghent, 1588-1794.
Kevin Dekoster, Annemieke Romein
The rise of the Roman-canon inquisitorial procedure throughout sixteenth-century continental Europe is often regarded as an important milestone in the development of legal medicine. The inquisitorial emphasis on the prosecution of crime by public officials and the rational investigation of the facts by the penal judge implied an adherence to ... (Show more)
The rise of the Roman-canon inquisitorial procedure throughout sixteenth-century continental Europe is often regarded as an important milestone in the development of legal medicine. The inquisitorial emphasis on the prosecution of crime by public officials and the rational investigation of the facts by the penal judge implied an adherence to very strict standards of proof, which eventually gave birth to a necessity on the part of judges to consult experts in a growing number of cases. Previous research has already pointed out that among the various groups of experts which appeared in early modern courts, medical practitioners were in fact the most frequently consulted category. Focusing on Ghent, the de facto capital of the County of Flanders (a principality comprising the present-day Belgian provinces of West- and East-Flanders, together with parts of Northern France), this contribution will give an overview of the manifold forms of collaboration between legal authorities (particularly the bench of aldermen of the Ghent Keure) and medical practitioners from the late sixteenth century onwards, when medico-legal expertise gradually became incorporated in Flemish criminal justice. First and foremost, medical practitioners were required to conduct post-mortems in order to inform the authorities on the nature of suspicious deaths. Drawing on a collection of post-mortem reports spanning the last decades of the sixteenth century and the entire seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some major developments in the description and analysis of violent death will be pointed out, from the relatively summary and selective external examinations at the start of the period to the thorough and systematic autopsies of the eighteenth century. While the performance of post-mortems was the exclusive domain of a restricted number of town physicians and surgeons, all medical practitioners could be involved in a second form of “medical policing”. In 1615, an ordinance of the Ghent aldermen required all surgeons operating within the city to report every injury they treated, together with an assessment of the potential lethality of these wounds. In this way, the local authorities and medical practitioners collaborated in an effort to curb violence in the streets and to promote the ex officio prosecution of violent crime over acts of private revenge. Early modern medical practitioners were, however, not only involved in legal controversies concerning the bodies of their fellow townsmen, but were also asked to pronounce on matters concerning mental health. Suppliants who submitted a petition to the Ghent aldermen for the collocation of an unruly family member made avid use of attestations of medical practitioners (in most cases physicians, but sometimes also surgeons) validating the insanity of the person in question. Medical evaluations of insanity were however much more controversial than other forms of medical expertise, as the aldermen always took care of obtaining a second opinion by the town physicians before deciding to collocate alleged lunatics. (Show less)
Coleman A. Dennehy :
Policing Early Modern Ireland: Crime, Criminal Policy, and Normative Behaviours – the Evidence from Seventeenth-century Irish Parliaments
It has been pointed out many times, that the common law took its first flight outside of England in Ireland, and indeed that as a colony, Ireland was a useful laboratory and testing ground for English colonial policies. More recent legal and social histories of Ireland have confirmed that in ... (Show more)
It has been pointed out many times, that the common law took its first flight outside of England in Ireland, and indeed that as a colony, Ireland was a useful laboratory and testing ground for English colonial policies. More recent legal and social histories of Ireland have confirmed that in many regards this is still the case. There is also a long history of law-making in Ireland and legal administration, that would suggest that the staffing, the law, the policy, and the administration of criminal justice in Ireland was heavily based upon the English model and that Ireland followed very closely what was already established form in England. The fact that the late Tudor period had seen an end to independent Gaelic lordship and law meant that the large parts of Ireland represented a blank canvas on which a new system could, in theory, be imprinted.
Seventeenth-century Ireland gives us a unique looking glass that will allow us to examine these assertions, and theories relating to criminal law and criminal justice more generally might be examined more closely. Although the Irish parliament did not meet often, it had an important role in passing a large number of reforming acts over a number of parliaments that relate to criminal law and criminal justice policy in Ireland. This paper will examine whether the legislation followed an English model and to what extent it was tailored to early modern Ireland specifically. It will question to what extent this represented the enforcement of a colonial system of criminal justice, and whether the local executive in Dublin or the MPs that sat in parliament gave it genuine consideration. Overall, this paper will question what those in varying positions of power felt about the criminal justice system in Ireland, about the importance of bringing Ireland into line with England, and to what extent it is possible to speak of normative forms in relation to a kingdom as diverse as Ireland was in the seventeenth century. (Show less)
Annemieke Romein :
Cross-border Influences of Offices, Norms and Reasoning. Early Modern Norms in the Low Countries
Early modern European states struggled for survival, making it impossible for them to ‘reinvent the wheel’ each time a problem arose. Hence, it was of tremendous importance to copy, adapt and implement normative rules that were already proven successful elsewhere – at least, that is a hypothesis I seek to ... (Show more)
Early modern European states struggled for survival, making it impossible for them to ‘reinvent the wheel’ each time a problem arose. Hence, it was of tremendous importance to copy, adapt and implement normative rules that were already proven successful elsewhere – at least, that is a hypothesis I seek to verify. I want to shed light on the entangled history of state-building and governance by using the plakkaatboeken (books of ordinances) of various provinces in the Dutch Republic and Habsburg Netherlands. In this way, I want to visualise how problems arose and solutions spread throughout the Low Countries – and possibly expand this to adjacent German territories.
The Low Countries consisted of seventeen unique but connected entities. The rift that was caused due to e.g. religious and economic issues caused a separation between the North and South in the late sixteenth-century. While the South remained loyal to its Spanish ruler, the North opted for finding a new head of state – ending up being entirely independent with the Estates General as the highest governmental body. Sharing a long history with the South, it is interesting to see what differences occurred in governance, state-building and state-formation: Did they go their separate ways?
This contribution will make use of about fifty books of ordinances that have been published within the Low Countries. Through a digital humanities-project at the Royal Library in The Hague the author will be able to apply a machine-learned algorithm to train metadata (categorisations) on the individual texts contained in these books. A categorisation by a machine-learned algorithm will offer ample possibilities to computer-search for similar topics within texts and to do content-based longitudinal searches, as the actual titles of texts may not always be so helpful to modern readers. The combination of a longitudinal search based upon content rather than the index or title within overview based upon several states (e.g. provinces) has been impossible so far. It will disclose the entangled histories of neighbouring provinces, due to synchronic and diachronic comparisons of approximately 15.000 texts on location – allowing for a wider search and implementation in other projects Europe-wide.
This contribution will focus on ordinances published within the Northern and Southern Netherlands in order to give us an idea of the differences and similarities between a monarchical and a non-monarchical-federation of states. It will not merely show statistical output, but also compare the language and solutions within the category of social order. By focussing on texts published between 1579 (Unions of Utrecht and Atrecht) and the start of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701), it will provide an overview of periods of war, peace and changes in government, and will hence provide ample possibilities for comparing the normative output and offering insights in the diffusion of norms and the problems that triggered the norms in the first place. (Show less)