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Crime and Forgiveness


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About the Author

Adriano Prosperi is Professor of Modern History, Emeritus, at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and author of more than fifteen books that address the intersection of law and religion in early modern Europe.


Thoroughly chilling...[A] grimly fascinating story of public execution, viewed not as punishment for the body but as medicine for the soul...As a collection of stories assembled from archives little-known outside Italy, this is an invaluable exploration of the macabre. As a prompt to consider the relationship between mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, it raises questions of far wider significance. -- Nicholas Vincent * The Tablet *
From a distinguished Italian historian of early modern Europe comes a profound yet subtle work, written with great passion. Prosperi explores the comparative dimensions of Christianity's relationships with public execution and its legitimization, principally in France, Germany, the Iberian peninsula, and England, with a particular focus on the religious confraternities devoted to consoling those condemned to be executed. -- Samuel K. Cohn, Jr., University of Glasgow
A valuable work, made accessible for the first time to English-speaking audiences. Prosperi's analysis of how Christianity allows for the perpetuation and promotion of the death penalty by aligning it with divine justice and the need to heal the population injured by the crime, while simultaneously insisting that only God can take vengeance, provides a critical lens through which modern practice can, and should, be viewed. -- Larissa Tracy * Journal of the Church and State *

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