Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-v

Illustrations

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pp. vi-vi

Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

This book, like all works of history, is born of engagement with both the past and the present. It was initially conceived in the 1990s, when crime in the United States gained prominence as both a social problem and a political tool. From the famous “Willie Horton” ad of the...

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Crime and Society

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pp. 21-41

The topical crime accounts that flowed from early presses were not fiction. Although some sloppily borrowed language from accounts of similar crimes elsewhere, very few seem to have been wholly invented. Even accounts of imaginary crimes, such as witchcraft and the ritual murder...

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Law and the Rational Hero

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pp. 42-64

In 1532, Emperor Charles V issued a new penal code for the Holy Roman Empire. The document, known to history as the Carolina, encapsulates the modern approach to criminal justice that increasingly gained ground in the sixteenth century. This was a matter of practice,...

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Crime into Text

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pp. 65-87

The sixteenth century saw huge expansion in the narration of crime. While the law code laid out the ideal procedures for specific offenses, and some authors reflected on crime in fiction, there was an even greater surge in the recounting of real-life crime. Part of this surge stemmed ...

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Crime and Christianity

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pp. 88-110

The authors and audience of cheap popular literature are usually difficult to trace. In the case of crime reports, however, one group’s activity stands out in both production and reception. Protestant clergy were prominent among the few authors who signed their...

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Family Murders

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pp. 111-135

A young man, about to end his life on the gallows, begs first that he might kiss his father one last time. As the old man leans forward for the kiss, the son instead bites off his nose. “If you had disciplined me in my youth, I would not have come to shame,” he says. This story, ...

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Training the Imagination

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pp. 136-162

Early modern people were very aware of the imagination and its uses. In a recent article on the imagination and witchcraft, Lyndal Roper quotes a definition from that infamous yet influential witch hunting manual, the...

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Staging the Lamentable Theater

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pp. 163-184

For the great sixteenth-century collector Johann Wick, heinous crimes were imbued with larger meaning. Pamphlets and broadsides on the latest and most terrible murders were not trivial but helped to create a significant historical and moral record. When he died in 1588,...

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Conclusion

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pp. 185-192

Early modern discourses of crime do not have a simple, linear history. Instead, their development evokes a web, or even an ocean of shifting layers and currents. I have long enjoyed William Hesseltine’s comment that “writing intellectual history is like trying to nail jelly to...

Notes

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pp. 193-224

Bibliography

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pp. 225-260

Index

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pp. 261-268

Further Reading

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pp. 269-270