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The Medieval Prison


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi A Note on Dates and Money xiii Prologue xv Introduction 1 Chapter One: Italian Prisons: Three Profi les 11 Venice 12 Florence 17 Bologna 21 Conclusions 27 Chapter Two: Aspects of Imprisonment 28 Urban Development 28 Administration and Bureaucracy 33 Finance and Economy 38 Punitive Imprisonment: Jurisprudence, Legislation, and Practice 44 Conclusions 54 Chapter Three: Prison Life 57 The Terror of Arrest 58 First Nights 61 Familiar Order: The Wards 63 Daily Life: Order and Dissidence 67 The World Outside 71 The Journey's End: Death, Escape, Release 74 Conclusions 80 Chapter Four: The Prison as Place and Metaphor 82 Early Imaginaries: Martyrdom, Monasticism, and Purgation 83 Excursus: Jail-Breaking Saints 86 From Purgation to Purgatory: God's Great Prison 88 This World and the Next: The Urban Prison 89 Conclusions 98 Conclusion: "Marginalizing" Institutions, Instituting Marginality 100 Appendix One: A Prison Inventory from Bologna, 1305 110 Appendix Two: Poems from the Prison 112 Appendix Three: Le Stinche, a Reconstruction 122 Abbreviations and Archives 125 Notes 131 Bibliography 171 Index 195

About the Author

G. Geltner is professor of medieval history at the University of Amsterdam.


"For most, neither the words 'medieval' nor 'prison' will conjure up particularly cheery images, and together their effect is so gothic as to be almost comical. Guy Geltner's intellectually vibrant history does much to shatter modernist preconceptions that either the period or the institution was universally nasty and brutish."--Times Literary Supplement "[Geltner] has contributed important work to an understudied subject that merits greater attention... As is traditional in good historical scholarship, the author has engaged in the time consuming and difficult task of archival research. In doing so, he has produced informative and well-documented scholarship on Italian medieval prisons and made a valuable contribution to this understudied and important historical subject."--Jonathan Rose, Reviews in History "The Medieval Prison can be recommended as a well written and excellently researched study based on a wide range of sources. It has a weighty scholarly apparatus, and one third of the text comprises footnotes and references... This small book packs a big punch."--Geoffrey Pearson, British Journal of Criminology "[Geltner's] account constitutes an admirable point of departure, absorbing in itself, and suggestive in its implications."--R. I. Moore, Journal of Social History

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