CORDIS - EU research results

Changing Attitudes towards Judicial Violence in the Italian Communes, ca. 1260-1360

Project description

Public opinion impact on penal reforms

Religious attitudes towards judicial violence have undergone significant transformation over the centuries. Starting from the early 13th and 14th centuries at communes in Florence and Siena, penal reforms swept most of Western Europe. The EU-funded J-ViC project will explore the first confraternities devoted to the spiritual assistance of criminals condemned to death. The project will shed light on the political and religious motivations behind the changes. It will fill the existing knowledge gap and provide fresh insight into the role of public opinion in the increase and decrease of judicial violence throughout history.


Public opinion has often had a strong influence in setting the boundaries of judicial violence in Europe. This project consists of a detailed analysis of secular and religious attitudes towards judicial violence in the period ca. 1260-1360, through the case-studies of the well-documented communes of Florence and Siena. Western Europe underwent in this period substantial penal reforms, ultimately making greater use of corporal punishment. At the same time, there were also changes in religious attitudes towards this phenomenon: the first confraternities devoted to the spiritual assistance of criminals condemned to death were founded in the 14th century. The political and religious reasons for these changes, their detailed chronology and the attitudes of different social segments towards them have not yet been thoroughly researched. This project aims to do so by combining the study of theories and practices of criminal justice of secular and religious origin and the history of emotions. It will advance our knowledge of medieval society and provide insight for understanding comparable contemporary phenomena, by producing as its outputs a monograph, preparatory articles, a series of podcasts and a briefing document on the role of public opinion in the increase/decrease of judicial violence throughout history. In this way, the proposed project will enhance the fellow's career perspectives both in and outside academia, and it will strengthen the links between research in the Humanities and public policy.


Net EU contribution
€ 171 473,28
Via Festa Del Perdono 7
20122 Milano

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Nord-Ovest Lombardia Milano
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 171 473,28