Re: Prison

From: scp4 (
Date: Wed 25 Feb 1998 - 22:17:07 EET

> Disclaimer: What I say is valid for medieval europe. I know nothing of
> prisons in other times/places.
> Although it is true that prisons were rare, they did exist. But keeping
> someone locked up was not seen as punishment only as containment. If there
> were people you needed to keep track of you threw them in the dungeon, but
> criminals were punished in higly ritalized torture ceremonies.
> In europe mutilation and torture was a result of the view of evidence &
> truth and the need for a confession. There were categories of different
> types of evidence and rules for combining them (by combini two half
> evidence one got a complete evidence etc). This with the fact that a 'half
> evidence' made you 'half-guilty' explains what seems like a paradox today:
> mixing investigation and punishment as seen in the torture ritual. At the
> same time you were never 'realy guilty' unless you confessed. The torture
> gave you an opportunity to clear your name if you were innocent, and if
> you were guilty well then you deserved it.

Torture should really be seen in the light of earlier practises.
Torture (lit. practice of law) was seen as the humane alternative to the
ordeal which was seen by the twelfth century as babaric and inadequate.

By the fourteenth century Torture seldom passed beyond the ritual
showing of the instruments. The torture chamber in the Parlement of

Paris, an airy room overlooking Seine was open to public scrutiny, a
felon who protested innocence with reasonable evidence would be led in
and asked if they maintained their innocence. If they did they were
often acquitted. It is also worth noting that in England torture was
only permitted by Royal Sanction and reserved for the crime of Treason.
As regards mutilation and other forms of corporal punishment the key
word here is "punishment". The concept of "rehabilitation" is a
nineteenth century concept (late nineteenth at that). You commit a
crime you are punished. Naturally in order to maximise the deterrent
value it was done in public ritual. This whole are of course is true
within the Lunar Empire, The West and parts of Kethaela, but most

conservative Orlanthi culture will rely upon Outlawry, Arbitration and
Clan Justice with Feuds a common feature. The description of the Thing
in RQ Vikings is the sort of (excuse the pun) thing Orlanthi are likely
to go in for. The imposition of Lunar Jurisprudence over tradtional
Orlanthi custom is of course one more source of a good story, much as
was the case when Edward the Elder overran the Danelaw and inflicted
Anglo Saxon justice on the Vikings.

S. Charles Perryman



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