Corporal Punishment

R. A. Houston

in Punishing the Dead?

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199586424
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191595356 | DOI:
Corporal Punishment

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Across Europe the early modern period saw a creative period in punishment. Culprits were created, suicides among them. This chapter looks mostly at Scotland, showing how Roman law influenced the use of distinctive ‘corporal’ sanctions against suicides: the dragging and gibbeting of their bodies. These punishments were both judicial and ‘popular’ or extra‐judicial, their co‐existence highlighting important aspects of how communities made law in early modern Europe. Changing ideas of the body are shown in attitudes towards the anatomical dissection of the bodies of suicides and executed criminals. A section on northern England shows that punishments there resembled those of Scotland in focusing on public shame; the cultural and legal reasons for this are explored, as is the decline of corporal punishments after c.1650.

Keywords: crime; punishment; bodies; execution; dissection; grave‐robbing; England; Scotland; regions; law

Chapter.  22384 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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