Crucifixion as Punishment in Ancient Rome

The goal of Roman crucifixion was not just death, but also dishonor. Introduction Crucifixion was an ancient method of execution practiced in the Roman Empire and neighboring Mediterranean cultures, such as the Persian Empire, where a person was nailed to a large wooden cross or stake and left to hang until dead. Contrary to popular[…]

A Brief History of the Development of the Common Law in Medieval England

Prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, there was no unitary, national legal system. Before 1066 the English legal system involved a mass of oral customary rules, which varied according to region. The law of the Jutes in the south of England, for example, was different from that of the Mercians in the[…]

Why Magna Carta Still Matters Today

Exploring the evolution of our rights and freedoms and the relevance of the Great Charter today. Introduction Magna Carta is a cornerstone of the individual liberties that we enjoy, and it presents an ongoing challenge to arbitrary rule. But over time, while not envisaged at the time of its drafting, Magna Carta has for many[…]

Crime and Punishment in Elizabethan England

Looking at crime in Elizabethan England and the brutal punishments offenders received. Thieves and Pickpockets The crowded nave of St Paul’s Cathedral was a favourite with pickpockets and thieves, where innocent sightseers mixed with prostitutes, and servants looking for work rubbed shoulders with prosperous merchants. A visitor up from the country might be accosted by[…]

Magna Carta: Neutering a King at Runnymede in 1215

During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. “The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history . . . It was written in Magna Carta.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941 Inaugural address Introduction On June 15, 1215, in a field at Runnymede, King John affixed his[…]

Lex Maiestatis: The Law of Treason in Ancient Rome

This refers to any one of several ancient Roman laws (leges maiestatis) dealing with crimes against the Roman people, state, or emperor. Description The very name perduellio, the name of the crime in the older Roman law, is evidence of this. Perduelles were, strictly, public enemies who bore arms against the state; and traitors were[…]

The Court System in Ancient Homeric Greece

Examining the main flaws in the court system in the days of Homer. By Dr. Alexandr LoginovProfessor of LawKutafin Moscow State Law University, Moscow Abstract The research investigates the court system in Homeric Greece. This period was characterized by a declining culture and scarce works that described those times. Hence, the court procedures of those[…]

Administrative and Government Buildings of the Roman Forum

A highly important function of the Forum Romanum was as a center of administration and politics. The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) was the main and central forum of the city of Rome. It became the economic, political, and religious center of the city in early Republican times, around the seventh century BCE. It continued to be[…]

Rule of Law as the Measure of Political Legitimacy in the Ancient Greek City-States

The ideal was formulated in the Archaic period and became a feature of Greek identity. Abstract This paper explores how a conception of the rule of law (embodied in a variety of legal and political institutions) came to affirm itself in the world of the ancient Greek city states. It argues that such a conception,[…]

Authority in Ancient Rome: Auctoritas, Potestas, Imperium, and the Paterfamilias

Examining various types of authority which spanned across centuries and covered all facets of Roman life. By Jesse SifuentesArtist and Historian Introduction Authority in ancient Rome was complex, and as one can expect from Rome, full of tradition, myth, and awareness of their own storied history. Perhaps the ultimate authority was imperium, the power to command the Roman army. Potestas was legal power belonging[…]

The Crime of Desertion in Roman Law

Roman law provisions on desertion had features that were totally different from the common Roman criminal law. Introduction While watching –once again—the classic and broadly acclaimed movie Ben-Hur, I thought about the legal consequences of deserting from the Roman Army for Roman conscripts and soldiers. Desertion was a serious crime under Roman military law, as[…]

The Prison Palimpsest: A Former Tour Guide Looks Back at Eastern State Penitentiary

More than 200 years ago, a group of Philadelphian reformers had a utopian vision of how prisons should be run. At work we notice a mummified cat. It rests in a pile of paint chips and splintered wood in the wreck of the prison warden’s quarters. The other tour guides and I venture across floorboards[…]

Were the Bald Knobbers Law-and-Order Folk Heroes or Murderous Thugs?

In the lawless post-Civil War Ozarks, the vigilante Bald Knobbers took government’s place. When I was seven years old, in 1983, my family took a road trip from Stillwater, Oklahoma, to Branson, Missouri, a family-oriented resort town deep in the Ozark Mountains. Our destination was Silver Dollar City, a Christian-owned theme park that is like[…]

How Dodge City Became the Ultimate Wild West

Fake news and smoking guns made the Kansas town a symbol of frontier lawlessness. Everywhere American popular culture has penetrated, people use the phrase “Get out of Dodge” or “Gettin’ outta Dodge” when referring to some dangerous or threatening or generally unpleasant situation. The metaphor is thought to have originated among U.S. troops during the[…]

A Radical Legal Ideology Nurtured Our Era of Economic Inequality

Where does economic power come from? Does it exist independently of the law? It seems obvious, even undeniable, that the answer is no. Law creates, defines and enforces property rights. Law enforces private contracts. It charters corporations and shields investors from liability. Law declares illegal certain contracts of economic cooperation between separate individuals – which[…]

Crime and Punishment in Georgian Britain

From gruesome, public executions to Georgian Britain’s adoration of the ‘heroic’ highwayman, the author investigates attitudes to crime and punishment in Georgian Britain. Introduction Throughout this period many people viewed criminals and law breaking as heroic and courageous, and the activities of robbers and villains were often widely celebrated in popular culture. Stories of daring[…]

The Mamertine Prison: Ancient Rome’s Tullianum

The prison was constructed around 640–616 BCE, by Ancus Marcius. Introduction The Mamertine Prison (Italian: Carcere Mamertino), in antiquity the Tullianum, was a prison (carcer) located in the Comitium in ancient Rome. It was situated on the northeastern slope of the Capitoline Hill, facing the Curia and the imperial fora of Nerva, Vespasian, and Augustus. Located between it and the Tabularium (record house)[…]

Draco’s Law Code in Ancient Athens

The laws aided and legitimized the political power of the aristocracy and allowed them to consolidate their control of the land and poor. By Antonios Loizides Introduction Draco was an aristocrat who in 7th century BCE Athens was handed the task of composing a new body of laws. We have no particular clues concerning his[…]

Fook Shing: Colonial Victoria’s Chinese Detective

Fook Shing spent 20 years as a Melbourne gumshoe. He policed the thriving Chinese community – claiming opium as an expense – but was never promoted above his entry rank of detective third class. On July 25 1882, Inspector Frederick Secretan, the head of Victoria Police’s Detective Branch, shifted uncomfortably in his seat. In the[…]

Edmund Randolph: First Attorney General of the United States

Edmund Randolph was the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General. Introduction Randolph was born on August 10, 1753 to the influential Randolph family in Williamsburg in the Colony of Virginia. He was educated at the College of William and Mary. After graduation he began reading law with his father John Randolph and uncle, Peyton Randolph.[…]

“Woe Unto Those Who Know Not How to Syllabificate”: The Languages of Medieval Law

Lawyers spoke their own language, even in the Middle Ages. When John of Salisbury (ca. 1115-1180) decried the dishonesty of lawyers in his Policraticus, he targeted the incomprehensibility of their legalese, complaining that “they snare simple men in nets of impenetrable jargon … ‘Woe unto those who know not how to syllabificate.’”[1] The sentiment expressed by John[…]

Female Litigants and Customary Law in Northern Burgundy, 1560-1610

Early modern women were subjected to multiple realms of authority in both the private and public spheres. By Taryn McMillanFreelance WriterMcMaster University It was the spring of 1596 and Jehanne Petit, a young widow, ventured to the local bailliage (bailiwick) court to request a greater share of her first husband’s wealth. In the sleepy village of Châtillon-sur-Seine,[…]