Title (eng)

Sin, Misdemeanor, Capital Crime? Adultery and Bigamy in the Holy Roman Empire


Andrea Griesebner


In the first part of this paper, I will offer an overview of
criminal law in the Holy Roman Empire and its use in various
jurisdictions. I will concentrate specifically on adultery and
bigamy and examine the occasions when both practices,
considered a grievous sin by the Christian worldview were
incorporated into territorial criminal laws. Considered a sin
on the one hand, a misdemeanor or capital crime on the
other, several authorities felt entitled to prosecute and
punish the offenders in different ways. In the second part,
turning from legal theory to practice, I confine the scope of
investigation to the Archduchy of Austria below the Enns.
I then explore the ways in which various authorities were
either cooperating with or alternatively ignoring the juridical
competence of the other institutions. In a close reading of
two bigamy cases from the beginning of the seventeenth
century I will show that the same offences committed by
different genders were treated differently. In the last part
I will discuss the pleas for clemency and their place within
the criminal legal system. Finally, I end with a brief look
at bigamy and its criminal prosecution in the eighteenth
century and then present my concluding remarks.

Object languages








Sünde, Vergehen, Verbrechen, Kriminalität, Geschichte, Ehebruch, Bigamie, Inzucht, Geschlecht, Geschlechtergeschichte, Kriminalitätsgeschichte