The Power of the Criminal Corpse in the Medieval World

The dying and dead body was an important locus in both religious and secular discourses of power. Introduction Taking a long-term view of the history of crime and punishment problematises any straightforwardly progressive narrative of the history of punishment as one of increasingly humane attitudes. Punishment in the Middle Ages was about retribution, but also[…]

Religious Legal Systems in Comparative Law: A Guide to Introductory Research

An overview of the major world systems, and where and how they have been and are implemented. Introduction Religious Legal Systems Religious law emanates from the sacred texts of religious traditions and in most cases purports to cover all aspects of life as a seamless part of devotional obligations to a transcendent, imminent, or deep[…]

Inspirations for and the Development of Law in Ancient Rome

The most celebrated system of jurisprudence known to the world begins, as it ends, with a Code. Ancient Codes From the commencement to the close of its history, the expositors of Roman Law consistently employed language which implied that the body of their system rested on the Twelve Decemviral Tables, and therefore on a basis[…]

An Outline of Roman Civil Procedure

The Romans resolved civil disputes by recourse to litigation based on law. Abstract This is a broad discussion of the key feature of Roman civil procedure, including sources, lawmaking, and rules. It covers the three principal models for procedure; special proceedings; appeals; magistrates; judges; and representation. It takes ac-count of new evidence on procedure discovered[…]

The Legal Profession in the Ancient Roman Republic

The grandeur that was Rome was actually the grandeur of Roman Law. I In ancient Greece or, to be more exact, in ancient Athens the general socio-political situation was distinctly inimical to the development of a true legal profession.[1] The sovereign and democratic people of Athens, at least during the second half of the fifth[…]

The Horatius Trial in Ancient Rome: Killing a Sister for Mourning a Fallen Enemy

Sentenced to death but acquitted in a public trial based upon his father’s appeal. The Story According to Livy, Rome and another Latin city, Alba Longa, came into conflict in what would amount to a battle for hegemony over the Latin-speaking part of Italy. So as not to exhaust either army, which would have left[…]

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[…]