978-0-7456-0616-3 / 9780745606163

Theatre of Horror: Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Germany


Publisher:Polity Pr



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About the book:

Early Modern crime and punishment evokes images of burning, public torture, and hanging and quartering. This book explores the religious, symbolic and political conditions in which such punishments were inflicted. The author argues that punishment was so terrible because there was little belief in rehabilitation of offenders, and the only purpose punishments served was to expiate crimes. He describes how symbolism influenced the institution and execution of tortures. The murderer of a child was thrown into a river in a sack, in which there were also a dog, a chicken, a snake and a monkey, all of which were allegorical representations of aspects of the evil that had been committed. Many punishments, such as burning on a wheel, were continued long after the victim was dead - the punishment being an expiatory ritual as much as a means of killing. The book also contains a studies of the crowds who turned up to witness executions in this period, and of the executioners themselves.

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