General Considerations on Punishment in Medieval Europe


  • Bogdan BUNECI Ecological University of Bucharest, Faculty of Law, Bucharest, Romania


The subject of punishment in medieval European history is quite broad for several reasons. First of all, the Medieval Age stretches over a period of over 1300 years and punishment has evolved in close connection with the social evolution of man in this long period. On the other hand, from a cultural and religious point of view, Europe was divided into two parts (Eastern Europe and Western Europe) and the punishments evolved differently due to the Christic vision that influenced the two parts of the continent differently. I would not be wrong to say that there was a third part of Europe (central) in which there was a mixture of rivers in the two extremities; however, here criminal law has acquired an original aspect; it cannot be considered closer to either of the two limiting areas. Punishments have also evolved in close connection with human social emancipation. For this reason, as we will see in our study, we will encounter at the beginning of the Middle Ages punishments adapted to those times but unimaginable to be applied in the contemporary era. Last but not least, it is important to add that European historiography deals with this subject in fragments (only in certain areas) - this being an additional reason why we have brought references from all over the continent in order to have an overview as much as possible complete on the measures taken by law and applied by a court as a sanction. KEYWORDS: punishment, criminal law, Christianity, Salic law, prison