Journal article

Law-breaking, Punishment, and the City: Execution Ballads in the Urban Environment

Una McIlvenna

Australia and New Zealand Law and History E-Journal | Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society | Published : 2020


This article explores how execution ballads — in English, French, Italian and German — evoked the urban spaces and locations of punishment from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth century. It explores the rationale behind judges’ choices of specific locations within and outside the city walls for public dismemberment and executions. Civic spectators were extremely conscious of the symbolism of individual sites of punishment and of the emotional, religious and social significance of performing specific rituals in certain locations. Key spaces, both intra- and extramural, where penalties were administered to those who had broken the law accrued emotional significance over time, as punishme..

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