Catholic Church. Decretales Gregorii IX. France, between 1280 and 1299
Oversize Ms. Codex 1059
Before the Lateran Council of 1215, people were forbidden to marry within seven degrees of consanguinity or affinity, but the Lateran Council changed canon law to reduce the limit to four degrees. These pages include charts which were designed to help people determine who they could or could not marry. The tree-shaped chart traces consanguinity, degree of relation within one’s own family. The blank circle represents the person under consideration; the circle above is pater/mater (father/mother); below, filius/filia (son/daughter); on the left, frater (brother); on the right, soror (sister). The roman numerals indicate the degree of consanguinity. The rectangular chart traces affinity, degree of relation within one’s spouse’s family, and, in the case of marrying a widow or widower, one’s spouse’s previous in-laws. The first column contains circles for uxor fratris olim relicta (brother’s former wife, widowed), uxor filii fratris (wife of brother’s son), uxor nepotis fratris (wife of brother’s grandson), and uxor pronepotis fratris (wife of brother’s great-grandson).
England and Wales. Parliament. An order … for suppressing of publique play-houses, dancing on the ropes, and bear-baitings. London : Printed for Edward Husband …, 1647
PN2044.G7 G7 1647
This edict suppressing various forms of public entertainment in and around London was passed in 1647 during the respite between the first (1642-1646) and second (1648-1649) English Civil Wars. “[P]ublique plays” had already been prohibited in 1642 as unfitting for the troubled times (as well as breeding grounds for debauchery and royalist sentiment). With Puritan influence in the ascendant in Parliament, the theatrical ban was reinforced and extended to “Dancing on the Ropes, and Bear-baitings” — prime examples of activities that were thought to encourage idleness, immorality and social leveling. British theaters remained closed, and many other diversions proscribed, until the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.
Braunschweig (Duchy). Von Gottes Gnaden Wir Rudolff Augusts, Hertzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg, &c. Fügen allen und jeden Unsern Praelaten … hiemit zu wissen … ob solte eine fast grosse Anzahl böser Leute aus Italien … gekommen seyn, welche theils als als Exulanten und Pilger bekleidet … inzwischen aber schädliche starcke Giffte bey sich haben, dieselbe an den Thüren und sonsten anschmieren … [Wolfenbüttel? : s.n., 1671]
GB B8385L box 37 no. 47
This edict, promulgated by Rudolf August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1627-1704), in 1671 warns of an influx of Italians and Germans posing as refugees, pilgrims or fruit merchants, but who are in fact poisoners, smearing noxious substances on gates and contaminating wells. The border guards are instructed to keep “a good sharp lookout” for suspicious persons and not permit them to enter the duchy if their papers are not in order. They are instead to be turned back or, if sufficiently dubious, arrested and the authorities notified.
Penn, William, 1644-1718. Frame of the government of the province of Pennsilvania in America. London: Andrew Sowle, 1682.
Folio AC6 P3808 682F
This document establishes a government consisting of two houses. The upper house, or the council, consisted of 72 members who were the first purchasers of 5,000 acres or more in the colony and had the exclusive power to propose legislation. They were also authorized to nominate all officers in church and state and supervise financial and military affairs through committees. The lower house, or the assembly, consisted of smaller landowners. It had no power to initiate legislation, but could accept or reject the council’s legislative proposal only. In addition to organizing the format of government, it also places in the governor and provincial councils’ responsibility the peace and safety of the province, the building and maintaining of roads and highways, and the establishment of “publick” schools. Pretty awesome.
Mongitore, Antonino, 1663-1743. L’atto pubblico di fede solennemente celebrato nella citta di Palermo. In Palermo : Nella regia stamperia d’Agostino …, 1724.
The auto-da-fé (sometimes auto-de-fé) from the Portuguese for ‘act of faith’ was the final step in the inquisition process. The spectacle of public penitence usually followed a trial during which a defendant accused of heresy or apostasy was condemned. The auto-da-fé ceremony generally involved the condemned person being led in a public procession to a plaza where a public reading of the sentence took place.
In L’atto pubblico di fede solennemente celebrato nella citta di Palermo, Mongitore describes the 1724 auto-da-fé celebrated in the city of Palermo, authorized by the Inquisition Tribunal of the Kingdom of Sicily in honor of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (1685-1740). The event is illustrated in four separate folding illustrations engraved by Francisco Ciche (d. 1742) depicting the action in full swing with the heretics (Sister Gertrude and Brother Romualdo, both convicted of Quietism) shown in two long processional scenes, as well as a scene with the theater and seating boxes for the authorities and a final scene showing a palisade with people assembled for the event. In popular imagination, the term auto-da-fé, came to mean the burning at the stake but physical punishment was more often carried out in secret by secular authorities after the conclusion of the public event.
Braunschweig (Duchy). Von Gottes Gnaden August Wilhelm, Hertzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg, &c. Es ist Uns unterthänigst referiret worden, wasgestalt das Tabacs-Rauchen bey Unsern Unterthanen in solche schädliche Gewohnheit kommen, dass die Jungen mit den Alten sowol in als ausserhalb deren Wohnungen in denen Ställen, Scheuren, auff den Höffen und so gar auff öffentlicher Strassen die angesteckten Tabacs-Pfeissen sonder Scheu im Munde führen. [Wolfenbüttel? : s.n., 1725]
GB B8385L box 8 no. 64
This edict, promulgated by August Wilhelm, Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneburg (1662-1731), in 1725 expresses concern about the growing number of people, young and old, who have taken up smoking and the danger of fire this poses. It orders that all pipes be capped in lead or metal under penalty of a two Thaler fine (half to go to the authorities and half to whoever denounces the offender). Public houses are to be inspected for compliance under penalty of the same fine. Soldiers found smoking uncapped pipes will be subject to Pfahlstehen (standing at attention on a narrow post) or Eselreiten (sitting on an uncomfortable wooden “donkey”) and repeat offenders will earn harsher punishments: Krummschliessen (being shackled in a bent position) or Gassenlaufen (running the gauntlet).
Braunschweig (Duchy). Von Gottes Gnaden Wir, Carl, Herzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg &c. &c. Fügen hiermit zu wissen, Was massen häufige Klagen darüber gehöret werden, dass viele Leute, insonderheit unnütze Müssiggänger, und die ihr Brod auf andere rechtschaffene Art nicht verdienen wollen, sich frevelhafter Weise unterstehen, in Teichen und Wassern, da sie nicht berechtiget sind, heimlich zu fischen, und sich zum Schein des kleinen Angels bedienen … [S.l. : s.n., 1752]
GB B8385L box 40 no. 118
This edict, promulgated by Karl I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1713-1780), in 1752 notes that the authorities have heard many complaints about “useless idlers” who, rather than earn their bread honestly, have taken to poaching fish and confronting anyone who calls them on it. These “wrongdoers and fish-thieves” are warned that they will be subject to fines, imprisonment and the hard labor they seem intent on avoiding; the authorities are ordered to arrest, interrogate and punish them accordingly.
Braunschweig (Duchy). Von Gottes Gnaden Wir, Carl, Herzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg &c. &c. Urkunden hiemit, Demnach seit verschiedenen Jahren sehr viele, zum Teil mit geistlichen Ordens-Kleidern angethane, Bettelleute aus Italien in hiesige Lande fast haufenweise gekommen … [S.l. : s.n., 1753]
GB B8385L box 41 no. 3
This edict, promulgated by Karl I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1713-1780), in 1753 warns against a wave of Italian con men, many dressed in religious habits, collecting money for Christian prisoners of the Turks or other charitable causes. The authorities are enjoined not to be fooled by their well forged passports and testimonials nor taken in by their pious disguises. Any suspicious street fundraisers are to be detained and their antecedents “sharply” investigated; their documents should be confiscated and sent to the privy council.
Braunschweig (Duchy). Von Gottes Gnaden, Wir, Carl, Herzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg &c. &c. fügen hiemit zu wissen, Nachdem Wir zu vernemen gehabt, dass liederliche und in Unzucht geschwängerte Weibespersonen alles Beystandes bey ihrer Niederkunft sich beraubet gesehen, ja wol gar auf der Strasse liegen geblieben, oder ihre unglückliche Frucht zu verlassen veranlasset worden, weil niemand sie, wenn sie der Geburt nahe gewesen, beherbergen wollen … [S.l. : s.n., 1755]
GB B8385L box 41 no. 18
This edict, promulgated by Karl I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1713-1780), in 1755 considers the plight of women pregnant out of wedlock who are reduced to giving birth in the street because no one will shelter them. According to a law passed in 1687, unwed mothers were subject to the same hefty fine (the Hurenbruch) assessed against prostitutes and their pimps. Potential good Samaritans worried that they, too, would be penalized; this decree absolves them from liability to the Hurenbruch as long as they immediately report rescuing unmarried pregnant women from the streets.
Constitutio criminalis Theresiana, oder, Der Römisch-kaiserl. zu Hungarn und Böhmen [et]c. [et]c., Königl. Apost. Majestät Mariä Theresiä, Erzherzogin zu Oesterreich, [et]c. [et]c., peinliche Gerichtsordnung, 1769.
This volume established a uniform criminal code and criminal procedural law in Austria and Bohemia and was enacted by the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa.
The book was drafted in Vienna in 1768, but was replaced in 1787 when torture in Josephinischen penal code was abolished. The volume contains two appendices, the “Beylagen”, drawings of technical details and construction plans of torture instruments. Also the correct execution of the “legal tortures” is meticulously described. In the text of the Code the penalties and their exact implementation were laid down. Shown here are illustrations of a rack along with instructions for its proper construction and use.
List of prisoners, after 1832 May
from the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons records, 1787-1883, Ms. Coll. 741, box 1, folder 2
After the peace of 1783, a group of prominent Philadelphia citizens led by Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and others organized a movement to reform the harsh penal code of 1718. The new law substituted public labor for the previous severe punishments. Reaction, however, against the public display of convicts on the streets of the city and the disgraceful conditions in the Walnut Street jail led to the formation in 1787 of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons (a name it retained for 100 years, at which time it became The Pennsylvania Prison Society), the first of such societies in the world. Members of the Society were appalled by what they learned about the new Walnut Street prison and the next year presented to the state legislature an account of their investigations of conditions and recommended solitary confinement at hard labor as a remedy and reformative strategy. This list of prisoners dating from some time after May 1832, includes the prisoner’s number (no name), age, sex (all male), place of birth, date of sentencing, term of imprisonment, offense, number of convictions, and comments. Nine of the 34 prisoners listed here were convicted for stealing horses … not such a common crime in Philadelphia these days! Other crimes include larceny, burglary, perjury, robbery, rape, passing counterfeit money, manslaughter, forgery, and arson.
Joe Hill (1879-1915) was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, familiarly called the “Wobblies”), who was executed for the crime of murdering a Salt Lake City area grocer and former policeman, and his son. Later evidence indicates that Hill’s alibi was never presented during his trial. Hill was executed by firing squad on November 19, 1915. This photograph is found in the George Seldes papers. George Seldes (1890-1995) was an investigative reporter, foreign correspondent, editor, author, and media critic, who sought to find the truth in a story and print it. Seldes was best known for the publication of the weekly newsletter In Fact from 1940 to 1950, a compendium of news other newspapers refused to print.
According to Franc Johnson Newcomb, “to any person who has direct contact with the home life of the Navajo Indian, it soon becomes apparent that the orderly procedure of family and community affairs is not a matter of chance or of personal decision, but a well established code of individual and collective behavior. This universal pattern of conduct cannot be ascribed to civic laws or governmental decrees because, until the advent of the white man, there was no centralized government. Religion and precedent, which establish superstition and taboo, are the great controlling forces of Navajo life.”
George Seldes , the above mentioned investigative reporter, foreign correspondent, editor, author, and media critic, got himself into some hot water with the publication of the weekly newsletter In Fact from 1940 to 1950, a compendium of news other newspapers refused to print. With this subpoena, Seldes was “hereby commanded to appear before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations of the Senate of the United States on July 1, 1953 in Washington, DC.