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Seeing Justice DoneThe Age of Spectacular Capital Punishment in France$
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Paul Friedland

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199592692

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199592692.001.0001

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Criminal Intent and Spectacular Punishment

Criminal Intent and Spectacular Punishment

The Infiltration of Roman Legal Theory and Practice into French Customary Law

(p.46) 2 Criminal Intent and Spectacular Punishment
Seeing Justice Done

Paul Friedland

Oxford University Press

Although customary and Roman law are often thought of as two entirely different bodies of law, this chapter charts the intrusion of Roman legal concepts—especially malice aforethought and exemplary deterrence—into customary law. From the twelfth century onward, punishment became increasingly spectacular and violent. New methods of execution, such as drawing and quartering, burning, boiling, beheading, live burial, and the wheel, were invented or borrowed from ancient Rome in order to transform the practice of punishment into a graphic exercise in exemplary deterrence. As the staging of punishment became more complex, fewer jurisdictions were entrusted with the authority to execute capital sentences, with the result that the practice of punishment gradually became less local in character. An increasingly powerful monarchy encouraged judicial discretion as a means of circumventing local irregularities and instituting a more homogenous, national system of punishment.

Keywords:   spectacular punishment, Roman law, customary law, malice aforethought, exemplary deterrence, methods of execution

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