Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany
Publication Year: 2012
With the growth of printing in early modern Germany, crime quickly became a subject of wide public discourse. Sensational crime reports, often featuring multiple murders within families, proliferated as authors probed horrific events for religious meaning. Coinciding with heightened witch panics and economic crisis, the spike in crime fears revealed a continuum between fears of the occult and more mundane dangers.
In Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany, Joy Wiltenburg explores the beginnings of crime sensationalism from the early sixteenth century into the seventeenth century and beyond. Comparing the depictions of crime in popular publications with those in archival records, legal discourse, and imaginative literature, Wiltenburg highlights key social anxieties and analyzes how crime texts worked to shape public perceptions and mentalities. Reports regularly featured familial destruction, flawed economic relations, and the apocalyptic thinking of Protestant clergy. Wiltenburg examines how such literature expressed and shaped cultural attitudes while at the same time reinforcing governmental authority. She also shows how the emotional inflections of crime stories influenced the growth of early modern public discourse, so often conceived in terms of rational exchange of ideas.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
Title Page, Copyright
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It is a pleasure at long last to be able to acknowledge the many debts I have incurred in preparing this work. Erik Midelfort continues to be an inspiration, not only for his example and encouragement, but also for his role in fostering a wonderful community of adventurous early modern scholarship. Many of those who have helped me may not even ...
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...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 1988 presidential campaign to the burgeoning “three strikes” laws man-dating longer sentences, the assertion of “toughness” against crime pow-...
Crime and Society
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The topical crime accounts that flowed from early presses were not fic-tion. Although some sloppily borrowed language from accounts of simi-lar crimes elsewhere, very few seem to have been wholly invented. Even accounts of imaginary crimes, such as witchcraft and the ritual murder of Christian children by Jews, were normally based on real cases. Never-...
Law and the Rational Hero
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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, system, and rationality, but it was also a matter of culture and com-munication. If popular printing often tended to emphasize the horrific ...
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...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 from the same set of legal developments as the Carolina itself: rational modern procedure required written, verifiable records, especially for the ...
Crime and Christianity
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...usually difficult to trace. In the case of crime reports, however, one group’s activity stands out in both production and reception. Protes-tant clergy were prominent among the few authors who signed their names to early crime accounts. On the receiving end, the most avid six-teenth-century collector of such reports was a cleric of the Reformed ...
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...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, from Johannes Pauli’s hugely popular collection Schimpf und Ernst (Fun and Earnest), was labeled a joke (Schimpf ), but one with a moral point. ...
Training the Imagination
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...its uses. In a recent article on the imagination and witchcraft, Lyndal Roper quotes a definition from that infamous yet influential witch hunt-ing manual, the Malleus Maleficarum: “Fancy or imagination is as it were the treasury of ideas received through the senses. And through this it happens that devils so stir up the inner perceptions, that is the power ...
distinctiveStagingthe Lamentable Theater
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...nous crimes were imbued with larger meaning. Pamphlets and broad-sides 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, no one carried on his work of collecting, although crimes continued and their narratives continued to appear in print. Some sixty years later, an-...
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...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 the wall”—although I suspect that it was meant disparagingly. Certainly it applies to cultural history as well. It is difficult to tease out meanings ...
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Arthur E. Imhof, Lost Worlds: How Our European Ancestors Coped with Everyday Life and Why Life Is So Hard Today, translated by Thomas RobisheauxPeter Blickle, Obedient Germans? A Rebuttal: A New View of German History, Wolfgang Behringer, Shaman of Oberstdorf: Chonrad Stoeckhlin and the Phantoms B. Ann Tlusty, Bacchus and Civic Order: The Culture of Drink in Early Modern ...
Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 12 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Studies in Early Modern German History
Series Editor Byline: H. C. Erik Midelfort