Prison in the Mediaeval and Early Modern Period

The history of law interprets prisons of this period not as a means of punishment but merely as places of custody; that perspective has prevented the subject from receiving much attention from historians, despite the many questions it raises in the realm of social history and the investigation of domicile and emotion in history. Prisons fulfilled complex functions and were an integral element of government for secular and ecclesiastical rulers alike. Prison has moreover over the centuries proved a major subject of art and literature. My primary sources for this work were correspondence to and from prisoners, their representatives and benefactors, along with what are known as Urfehden – contractual documents whereby prisoners committed themselves to compliance with certain requirements in order to obtain their release.
Das Burgverlies (Castle dungeons) and various contributions to the catalogue, in: Burg und Herrschaft. (Castles and Power) An exhibition by the Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin, 25 June to 24 October 2010, eds Rainer Atzbach, Sven Lüken and Hans Ottomeyer, Dresden 2010, pp. 226-228, pp. 230-232 (exhibition website).
The Urfehde in Prussia in the 15th and 16th Centuries; lecture given on 6 October 2012 at 36th Annual Conference of the German Studies Association: October 4–7, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (conference program).


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