This innovative book tells the fascinating tale of the long histories of violence, punishment, and the human body, and how they are all connected. Taking the decline of violence and the transformation of punishment as its guiding themes, the book highlights key dynamics of historical and social change, and charts how a refinement and civilizing of manners, and new forms of celebration and festival, accompanied the decline of violence.
Pieter Spierenburg, a leading figure in historical criminology, skillfully extends his view over three continents, back to the middle ages and even beyond to the Stone Age. Ranging along the way from murder to etiquette, from social control to popular culture, from religion to death, and from honor to prisons, every chapter creatively uses the theories of Norbert Elias, while also engaging with the work of Foucault and Durkheim.
The scope and rigor of the analysis will strongly interest scholars of criminology, history, and sociology, while the accessible style and the intriguing stories on which the book builds will appeal to anyone interested in the history of violence and punishment in civilization.
Introduction: Violence and Punishment within Civilizing Processes page 1
PART ONE Violence
1 Long-Term Trends in Homicide: Amsterdam, Fifteenth–Twentieth Centuries 19
2 Homicide and the Law in the Dutch Republic: A Peaceful Country? 39
3 Violence and Culture: Bloodshed in Two or Three Worlds 57
PART TWO Punishment and Social Control
4 Punishment, Power and History: Foucault and Elias 75
5 Monkey Butt’s Mate: On Informal Social Control, Standards of Violence and Notions of Privacy 92
6 "The Green, Green Grass of Home:" Refl ections on Capital Punishment and the Penal System in Europe and America from a Long-Term Perspective 104
PART THREE Civilizing the Body in Human History
7 Elites and Etiquette: Changing Standards of Personal Conduct in the Netherlands until 1800 129
8 Civilizing Celebrations: An Exploration of the Festive Universe 151
9 The Body’s End: Death and Paradise in Human History 163
Epilogue: A Personal Recollection of Norbert Elias and How I Became a Crime Historian 174
Archival Sources 200