Version classiqueVersion mobile

Le pénal dans tous ses États

 | 
René Lévy
, 
Xavier Rousseaux

- I - Acculturation juridique et intégration nationale

State Formation and Criminal Justice in Early Modern Europe: How Exceptional was the Dutch Model?

Pieter C. Spierenburg

Texte intégral

1This brief essay discusses the interplay of criminal justice and state formation processes in early modern Europe. The difference in trajectories of State-formation is its guiding theme. A major question is whether the road taken by the Dutch Republic was fundamentally different from what happened in the rest of Europe. This is the view of Robert Muchembled, put forward in particular in his book Le temps des supplices (1992). Consequently, I will present my own views in a critical dialogue with the work of Muchembled.

  • 1 Revue du Nord, 1985, p. 1123-1126 (Review of Spierenburg, 1984; my first name was misspelled as "P (...)

2Before embarking on this dialogue, I wish to emphasize that I agree with Muchembled on several basic issues: we both want to situate the history of crime and justice firmly in a context of sociocultural history and the development of society as a whole; we both find that the work of Norbert Elias is a vital theoretical frame of reference. However, when it comes to operationalizing these principles, we sometimes go our own ways. One of our disagreements concerns the significance to be attached to the republican structure of the Dutch state in the early modem period. Muchembled first took me to task on this in 1985, in a review of my book The Spectacle of Suffering1. Until now, I have not sufficiently responded to this challenge. Does the relative lack of centralizing tendencies in the Dutch Republic have serious consequences for a theory which posits an interdependence of State-formation and changing sensibilities? Muchembled wrote:

3"Il est cependant dommage que l’auteur ne se soit pas suffisamment rendu compte de la spécificité du cas hollandais, qui me paraît plutôt une exception. (...) Il manque en effet, aux Provinces-Unies, une conception très centralisée, dans les conditions du temps, du pouvoir et de la justice criminelle qui en découle".

4The implicit argument is clear: the interdependence of processes of State-formation and trends in punishment, which I observed, was valid for most of Europe except in the country where the bulk of the empirical evidence came from. My theory, meant as a contribution to Elias’ grand theory about civilization processes, maintained that the increase of sensibilities with regard to the physical treatment of offenders can be explained primarily in terms of ongoing State-formation. However, according to Muchembled, the absence of centralization in the Netherlands in the early modem period meant that the country lagged behind most of Europe with respect to the process of State-formation. Since the Dutch became at least as sensitive about physical punishment as their fellow Europeans, we would have to conclude that the two phenomena we are concerned with were unconnected in the Netherlands.

  • 2 R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices. De l’obéissance sous les rois absolus, XVe-XVIIIe siècles, (...)
  • 3 In the passage concerned, he reviews the contributions of Marx, Weber, Foucault, Elias and myself (...)

5In Le temps des supplices Muchembled takes up this argument anew. It forms part of the book’s central thesis. Now, in addition to just noting the exceptional character of the Dutch Republic, Muchembled explicitly contrasts its structure with absolutism. He considers my work as playing down this contrast: "Spierenburg s’intéresse plus à la transition de l’Etat moderne à l’Etat-nation qu’à la création du premier, si bien qu’il ne voit pas nettement les grandes différences existant entre les pays absolutistes et les Provinces-Unies2 ". Since he criticizes me in good company, I might have left it at that3. Let me assess his criticism nevertheless. In his book, Muchembled integrates his image of the Dutch Republic into a broader thesis: trajectories of State-formation in absolutist countries (notably France) and the Netherlands were fundamentally different; in accordance with this, there were crucial differences in the realm of justice; the actual system of punishment and discipline prevailing in each country, in its turn influenced the character of State-formation in that country.

6In this picture of contrasting poles, the Netherlands still are the odd party. What accounts for Muchembled’s fascination with the Dutch model? The answer can be reduced to one word: Arras. The empirical core of his book consists of a vast array of data from the province of Artois, in particular from its capital city, Arras, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The problem, as always, is to endow the quantitative figures derived from court records with some kind of meaning. Muchembled solves this problem by contrasting Arras with Amsterdam at the height of its power. In this way, he is able to interpret his data and to integrate them into a broader synthesis. But the synthesis is based on an operation whose validity must be doubted: the Dutch model, that of the the urban republic, is projected back in time. Within the history of Artois, dominated by its capital city, Muchembled distinguishes a republican and a monarchist phase. Well into the sixteenth century, the Arras magistrates had the habitus of an independent elite; they considered themselves as the rulers of a free urban republic and acted that way. This was the habitus, still according to Muchembled, belonging to the model which was fully worked out later in Amsterdam. Arras, on the other hand, witnessed a change of models. Gradually, the magistrates were obliged to accomodate themselves to their Habsburg and, later, Bourbon sovereigns.

7The main fault of this argument is that it confuses two distinct aspects of historical change: on the one hand, the fate of the vanishing city-State, losing its relative autonomy to a monarchy which encapsulates it; on the other, the phenomenon of resistance by provincial and/or local forces to a rising center. The latter phenomenon may or may not result in a new polity. Both types of processes have occurred in various contexts; they can be observed in European as well as non-European history. But they cannot simply be equated.

  • 4 R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 230-231.

8Moreover, it is misleading to put the single territory of Artois, with a few medium-sized towns, on a plane with the Dutch Republic, which comprised seven provinces and some conquered territories and which had a highly developed urban system. Muchembled tends to put sixteenth-century Arras in the same box with late seventeenth-century Amsterdam, as two comparable units. He then goes on to confront my figures on corporal and capital penalties in Amsterdam in the years 1650-1750, with figures referring to Arras in the sixteenth century. His conclusion is that Amsterdam had a milder regime of punishment4. Considering the difference in period, this is no surprise. As I will argue, such a change is to be expected when one overviews the general European development of criminal justice and State-formation. The political system of individual countries had only a limited influence on this general development. Certainly, it is too rash a conclusion that the Netherlands as a whole had a relatively mild penal practice throughout its history.

  • 5 See p. 178, where he takes issue with Gijswijt-Hofstra.

9Arras, then, came under the spell of absolutism as well as being conquered by France. Indeed, in Muchembled’s view, absolutism and Frenchness appear to be intimately connected. To support this view, he plays down heavily on other models of the evolution of the state such as the English and the Swedish, which he mentions only in passing. What remains, is a duality, involving the Netherlands and France. The assumption is that, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the former country had features which by then had died out in the latter. As the French model of State-formation was the more modem one, the Dutch model was characterized by a continuation of ancient traditions. The prominent role of urban patriciates is equated with a lack of central control. For his characterization of the Dutch Republic Muchembled necessarily has to rely on the publications of Dutch historians. When they underestimate the peculiar, deviant status of their own country, he criticizes them for it5.

I - A PLURALITY OF MODELS

  • 6 R MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 230. The disturbing factor of England occasionally app (...)
  • 7 R. LEVY, X. ROUSSEAUX, Etats, justice pénale et histoire : bilan et perspectives, Droit et Société (...)

10The claim of the absolute uniqueness of the Dutch Republic, paradoxically, serves to put France at center stage. This follows from an overemphasis on France’s counter-model: only the Netherlands were really different. The implication is that the path taken by each third country was a variant of the French road: "au temps de Louis XIV, rien n’est plus éloigné que la conception de l’obéissance respectivement ressentie par les Français et par les Hollandais"6. Note the Franco-centeredness of the expression "the age of Louis XIV," which refers to the experience of the inhabitants of both countries or, probably, Europe as a whole. By contrast, in a discussion of State-formation, Lévy and Rousseaux warn against making the French model too central: "Il importe cependant de ne pas construire l’histoire de la justice en Europe sur ce seul modèle"7. According to Muchembled, however, there were only two roads to State-formation in early modem Europe.

11Against this view, I am positing a plurality of state formation processes. Although everywhere the establishment of military and tax-raising monopolies constituted the nucleus of these processes, the historical trajectories by which this establishment came about varied in several ways. Thus, one of Muchembled’s two roads, the French road, should be broken down to its constituent parts. In order to do so, we have to take a closer look at how this road was constructed.

  • 8 R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 190.

12France, of course, was a Catholic country and Muchembled tends to view Catholicism as the corollary of absolutism. Arguing further from this, he posits a special role for "sacralization" and the witch trials in the process of state formation. According to him, the "sacralization of the state" can be conceived of as a series of rites de passage in Arnold van Gennep’s sense. The zenith of the use of supplices (1520-1580) was the 'rite of separation with the medieval world.' The period 1580-1640 represented the rite of (collective) marginality, characterized by witch trials. After 1640 the rite of aggregation set in; then the sacred grew beyond the reach of ordinary mortals8. Ingenious as this may seem, we must wonder if it is helpful to view the population of an entire country over six generations or so as if they were a group of people undergoing an initiation rite.

  • 9 R. LEVY, X. ROUSSEAUX, Etats, justice pénale et histoire..., p. 264.

13The image of rites de passage does seem helpful in placing France at the center of attention. It provides the missing link to save the two-road approach and do away with the pluralism which existed in reality. Every country had something of France: Sweden, although Protestant and hardly witnessing witch trials, was absolutist just like France; England had a king and a court just like France; Scotland, too, had them for a period and witch hunts in addition; even the Southern Netherlands can be annexed to the French model in this way. Conspicuously absent is the relative newcomer, Prussia. This is not surprising, since it primarily became a state in the eighteenth century; a period only nominally treated in Muchembled’s book. The inclusion of the Southern Netherlands is especially striking. Apparently, this conglomeration of territories must be considered as having followed the French road, because like France they were Catholic and experienced waves of witch persecutions. In reality, the Dutch Revolt had been partially successful in the South: although the revolt failed to establish religious pluralism and a sovereign prince remained the highest authority in these provinces, absolutism did not develop there. Lévy and Rousseaux, characterizing the Southern Netherlands with "une centralisation incomplète", explain that the exercise of justice was fragmented until the end of the eighteenth century9.

  • 10 R. BRIGGS, Communities of Belief. Cultural and Social Tension in Early Modern France, Oxford, 1989 (...)
  • 11 R. Muchembled admits this himself (Ibidem, p. 168-169, 181-185).
  • 12 See, among others, E. LABOUVIE, Zauberei und Hexenwerk. Landlicher Hexenglaube in der frühen Neuze (...)

14The episode of witch trials deeply affected European societies, but it defies being construed as a phase in the process of state formation. Admittedly, in the realm of witchcraft prosecutions, the Dutch Republic had an exceptional status indeed. When it comes to witchcraft, however, every country or region is different from the others. There was no straightforward link between one model of State-formation and the witch persecutions. Multiple factors were at work here, as attested by, among others, Robin Briggs. He doubts whether the witch trials served to acculturate the peasant masses to elite or 'Christian' standards and he sees witchcraft accusations as following a variety of scenarios10. Moreover, how could the witch persecutions have contributed to the stabilization of the French state, since they were infrequent and stopped relatively early in the heart of the French monarchy, the Parlement of Paris? Witch hunts characteristically occurred on the peripheral fringe: an area partly outside the kingdom, although often French-speaking11. In non-French speaking areas, such as in the Saar region and other parts of Germany, witch trials were often initiated from below12.

  • 13 See F. BRAUDEL, Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècles (3 tomes), Pa (...)
  • 14 When I first discussed my intention to investigate Dutch State-formation in the early modem period (...)

15So far for the Franco-centered road to state formation. Now we must inquire into its supposed contrast. Was the Dutch model really that exceptional? Did it in no way resemble a country like France? In his writings on State-formation, Elias hardly pays any attention to the Netherlands. An analysis based on his theories, therefore, necessarily is the author’s own construction. Muchembled proceeded by looking for additional support in the work of Braudel. As a consequence, he contrasts France with Amsterdam, rather than the Dutch Republic as a whole. Braudel, however, dealt primarily with economic developments13. When the economy is the subject, it makes sense to concentrate on the Dutch metropolis; it is less helpful when the subject is the state. Instead of relying on Braudel, we may follow another procedure: adapting Elias’ model of the court society to Dutch circumstances. In this case, we are inquiring not only into the differences with France, but also pose the question whether there were similarities. We find, for example, that the Republic featured various aristocratic elements14.

16Thus, the Dutch Republic surely was different from the countries surrounding it, but not so extremely different. Two aspects, which made for a degree of similarity with the rest, should be emphasized:

  1. The evolution of (attitudes to) crime and justice in the Netherlands for a great deal formed part of a general European development.
  2. The process of state formation in the Dutch Republic did involve pacification and some measure of centralization and integration. Let us consider the evidence for both statements, respectively.

II - EUROPEAN-WIDE DEVELOPMENTS

17What, then, is the general European development with respect to crime and justice? It can be viewed from various angles, but two elements, I think, need special emphasis. First, there was a long-term cultural development of changing attitudes toward the body, which involved the emergence of privatization and a measure of sensitization to suffering. Second, changes in the 'volume' of court activities can be observed, involving types and total number of punishments, both per crime and total. Here we have to do with quantitative trends; the element mentioned first, is obviously qualitative. The qualitative and quantitative developments were related, but they did not exactly follow the same track. In both, State-formation played an important role.

  • 15 This paragraph is based on my recent synthesis: P.C. SPIERENBURG, Chapter Two. The Body and the St (...)
  • 16 C. HUYGENS (1608-1687), Briefwisseling, edited by J.A. Worp, vol. 6 (1663-1687), Den Haag, 1917, p (...)
  • 17 Th. W. LAQUEUR, Crowds, Carnival and the State in English Executions, 1604-1868, in A.L. BEIER et (...)
  • 18 V.A.C. GATRELL, The Hanging Tree. Execution and the English People, 1770-1868, Oxford, 1994.

18I will be very brief about the long-term cultural development, which is central to many of my publications15. Changing attitudes to the sight of the scaffold were manifest first among elite groups. They originated in the early seventeenth century, when, as a general Western European phenomenon, certain penal practices such as various forms of mutilation and the imposition of visible branding marks, were discontinued (judges, of course, also belonged to the elite). By the late seventeenth century, upperclass persons, even though regularly present at executions, disliked the permanent sight of the scaffold. When Constantijn Huygens urged the Court of Holland in the Hague to remove its permanent, stone scaffold, as the magistrates in other towns had done, he expressly motivated his request by pointing at the 'foreign persons of quality', among whom the French envoy, who lived close by16. In the eighteenth century, the trend toward more sober executions was complicated by the 'carnivalesque' behavior of crowds at executions. Although much emphasized by such authors as Laqueur and Linebaugh, this phenomenon was probably peculiar to London, and maybe a few other big cities17. Moreover, where this crowd behavior was manifest, it only served to intensify the elites’ distaste. From the late eighteenth century onward, feelings of uneasiness at public executions became more common. For England, this process has been charted recently by Gatrell, who unfortunately, takes a step back to older, valueladen interpretations18. The 'conclusion' of the general European development was the removal of capital punishment from public view between 1850 and 1870. Interestingly, France was the principal exception here, delaying this removal until 1939.

  • 19 Figures cited in P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter. Een Verkennende Historisch-Soc (...)
  • 20 P.C. SPIERENBURG, The Spectacle of Suffering. Executions and the Evolution of Repression: from a P (...)

19Is it possible to illustrate the development, implied by the decline of public punishment, with quantitative figures? We should not expect an automatic congruence. For one thing, different courts had widely divergent penal practices. In seven sample regions in the Netherlands in the eighteenth century, the share of public penalties varied from 9% (in Wassenaar) to 50% (in Waterland)19. This percentage depended for a large part on the court’s prosecution policy and the seriousness of the offenses which came to its attention. In Amsterdam, during the period 1650-1750, the share of public penalties fluctuated between 4% and 32% per decade, without any significant change in the character of the offenses tried20. Moreover, related to separate crimes, the severity of punishment increased in this period. Thus, during a middle-range term, the court gradually became more severe, while remaining within the bounds of a certain standard of acceptable repression. This is another complicating factor in any attempt to capture the longer-term development in statistical terms.

  • 21 I find this a more plausible explanation than the one referring to a sudden growth in the desire t (...)

20Still, the long-term trend is visible in the quantitative realm too, and State-formation is the crucial factor again. As monopolies of violence were established, state rulers started to make use of their monopoly. The result was an increase in the severity toward lawbreakers, which culminated in the sixteenth century21. Later, from the seventeenth century onward, sensibilities gradually started to get in the way, which finally caused the volume of severe sanctions to decrease again. Both trends are visible in the figures for capital punishment. Here, at last, we have a less ambiguous indication.

  • 22 J.A. SHARPE, Judicial Punishment in England, London, Boston, 1990, p. 28.
  • 23 D.A. BERENTS, Het werk van de vos. Samenleving en criminaliteit in de late middeleeuwen, Zutphen, (...)

21In the middle ages the death penalty was relatively infrequent; a situation related to the absence of a strong justice from above. To cite just a few medieval examples: in the English county of Warwickshire (1377-1397), thirteen out of 169 felons whose fate is known were hanged (7,7%; a total of 231 felons were indicted)22. In the Dutch town of Utrecht, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, 8,8% of all cases that came before the town’s court resulted in capital punishment23. These examples could be supplemented by others.

  • 24 All English figures from J.A. SHARPE, Judicial punishment in England, p. 28-36. The table on p. 31 (...)

22In England as a whole the number of death penalties rose sharply in the Tudor period, with a high point in the 1540s. Decline set in from the end of the sixteenth century, in some counties earlier than in others. This decline was manifest not only in percentages but also in absolute numbers. For example, in Cheshire the total number of death sentences decreased from 337 during the years 1580-1619, to 274 in 1620-1659 and down to eighty-five in 1660-1709. There was also a shift in the nature of the crimes for which the death sentence was imposed: the share of property offenses declined from 87% at end of the sixteenth century to 55,5% in the 1660s, while the share of homicide rose during the same period from 10,5% to 36,5%. Using scattered data from all over England, Sharpe concludes that capital convictions for property offenses dropped considerably, except for the London area, between the end of the sixteenth century and the middle of the eighteenth24.

  • 25 J.E.A. BOOMGAARD, Misdaad en straf in Amsterdam. Een onderzoek naar de strafrechtspleging van de A (...)
  • 26 P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter..., p. 134.
  • 27 Figures cited in P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter..., p. 133. On the Bokkerijders (...)

23The Netherlands, as far as we know, witnessed a comparable trend. During the period 1524-1552, 186 death sentences were pronounced in Amsterdam, which amounted to 26,4 % of all cases recorded in the city’s 'justice books'25. The next known figure concerns the second half of the seventeenth century, when 155 death sentences were pronounced. Thus, the annual average had declined from over six to about three, even though the city had expanded enormously in the meantime. After a temporary peak of 234 death sentences during the years 1701-1750, the number declined sharply to fifty-six in the years 1751-180026. This contrast between the first and second half of the eighteenth century was also visible outside Amsterdam. The absolute number of death penalties in the seven sample regions from 1701 to 1750 was ninety-three. Between 1751 and 1800 this was forty-nine and thirty-seven of them were imposed, in one region alone, on members of the Bokkerijder band27. Obviously, capital punishment was on the decline in the Netherlands in the second half of the eighteenth century. As in England, this sentence became increasingly reserved for homicide.

  • 28 See R. van DÜLMEN, Theater des Schreckens. Gerichtspraxis und Strafrituale in der frühen Neuzeit, (...)

24In Germany and Switzerland, finally, the trend seems to have been similar to the English one. Death sentences peaked in the sixteenth century and then started to decline. This pattern has been observed in the cities of Frankfurt, Augsburg, Nürnberg and Zürich28.

III - KINGS AND PATRICIANS

  • 29 See M. FOUCAULT, Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison, Paris, 1975.
  • 30 P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter..., p. 131-132.
  • 31 Thus, R. MUCHEMBLED, Société et mentalités dans la France moderne, XVIe-XVIIe siècles, Paris, 1990 (...)

25Next to the qualitative and quantitative long-term developments, two other phenomena highlight the relationships between justice, crime and State-formation. Several authors have devoted attention to the personal character of justice and authority in the early modem period. According to Foucault and others after him, this phenomenon was peculiar to the absolute monarchy: personal justice was the king’s justice; the branding-mark was the imprint of the king on the offender’s body29. However, similar images were prevalent in patrician republics. The branding-mark literally imprinted the city’s arms on the offender’s body and the city’s arms stood for the urban community led by their patrician 'fathers'. When the corpse of a capital convict, exposed on Amsterdam’s gallows field, was secretly removed from there in 1689, the magistrates spoke of its 'theft'. In their conception, the body belonged to the city fathers, who exposed it in the name of the urban community30. Likewise, urban magistrates in Holland, but also in the German town of Bremen, regularly received requests from families who wanted to imprison a member for misconduct. Whether or not we consider this practice as paternalistic, it is absolutely wrong to consider it as peculiar to absolutist monarchies31.

  • 32 See, among others, R. COBB, The Police and the People. French Popular Protest, 1789-1820, Oxford, (...)

26Banditry, too, was a phenomenon familiar to many early modern Europeans, and a simple Dutch-French contrast will not do. Neither its frequency nor its geographic spread can be adequately explained in terms of city-states vs. monarchies. Admittedly, in the province of Holland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there were hardly any large bands, although banditry did occur there too. Likewise, however, there were few bands in the Paris region or the North of France. Banditry was more frequent and widespread in central France, the Southern Netherlands and most German regions. Very often, it rose in the aftermath of war, with the disbandment of troops32. Germany and the Southern Netherlands were theaters of war in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Hence, they lagged behind the core of Europe with respect to an important concomitant of state formation processes: pacification. By contrast, both the Dutch Republic (except some border areas) and the Paris region were pacified to a greater extent. Again, the republican-absolutist contrast is no factor of importance.

  • 33 P.C. SPIERENBURG, Judicial Violence in the Dutch Republic. Corporal Punishment, Executions and Tor (...)

27This leads us, finally, to the structure of the Dutch state and the transformation it underwent during the Republican period. Could the Northern Netherlands have partaken of a general European development with respect to crime and justice, without any change in the basic fabric of the state? Obviously, in the North the sixteenth-century revolt arrested the trend toward centralization that the Habsburgs had championed. The republic, which emerged in this comer of Europe, was wanted by no one. Nevertheless, the basic preconditions for a resumption of the process of state formation were present: a monopoly of military violence and a monopoly on the collection of taxes. These monopolies were established from an early date, but until 1749 they were in different hands. The stadholder commanded the army and exerted a decisive influence on the movement of troops; the patriciate of Holland controlled the tax-farming system. The tax reform of 1749 transferred control over the collection of taxes to the stadholder. Henceforth both monopolies were in one hand: a major step in the Dutch state formation process33. The very existence of a military and a tax-raising monopoly in the Republic since the early seventeenth century was a precondition for the country’s internal pacification.

  • 34 F. EGMOND, Fragmentatie, rechtsverscheidenheid en rechtsongelijkheid in dc Noordelijke Nederlanden (...)
  • 35 R. DEKKER, Holland in beroering Oproeren in de XVIIe en XVIIIe eeuw, Baarn, 1982; Getrouwe broeder (...)
  • 36 J. SPAANS, Haarlem na de Reformalie. Stedelijke cultuur en kerkelijk leven, 1577-1620, Den Haag, 1 (...)
  • 37 M. GIJSWIJT-HOFSTRA (ed.), Een schijn van verdraagzaamheid, Hilversum, 1989.

28Up to this point of the discussion, the differences with contemporary France or England are gradual rather than fundamental. They become greater when we discuss the extent of centralization in each of these countries in the early modem period. Still, recent work by Dutch historians shows the existence of several uniforming tendencies and supralocal forms of control. Egmond, for example, argues that the criminal law and court procedures in the Dutch Republic became increasingly uniform. Local judicial bodies learned from each other, as they exchanged experiences34. Studies by Rudolf Dekker, on riots and labor conflicts, point to a process of supralocal integration. The Dutch authorities could deal with riots relatively effectively. The presence of soldiers in some cities and their easy transport to others made it possible to suppress riots more quickly than in many regions of France. The process of integration in the Dutch Republic is even more manifest in the case of the handling of labor conflicts, notably in the textile industry. In the course of the seventeenth century, employers and magistrates throughout the country increasingly cooperated in confronting labor unrest, thereby contributing to the creation of a national economy under their control35. Next to the economy, integration progressed in the sphere of religion. Spaans concluded that, in the first half of the seventeenth century, a national, Reformed Church was formed out of a network of local churches36. From a recent collective volume, finally, we learn that the famous tradition of tolerance, usually considered as the hallmark of Dutch distinctiveness, had its limits and was not so all encompassing as earlier historians assumed37. Together, these studies warrant the conclusion that some measure of centralization and integration was achieved in the Dutch Republic in the course of its existence.

IV - CONCLUSION

29Among European State-formation processes, developments in the Northern Netherlands in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries represented one of several variants. From about 1600 the Dutch Republic was established as a new state, more or less secure vis-à-vis its outside enemies, and increasingly subject to internal pacification. This was a precondition for the domestication of its elites, which in its turn was intimately related to (but not simply the cause of) the transformation of attitudes to the body involving the rise of sensibilities with regard to public, physical punishment and a reduction in the application of the death penalty. It is unlikely that these developments could have come about if a monopoly on military violence and the collection of taxes had been completely absent. On the other hand, their occurrence did not require a high level of centralization and bureaucratization. Within the framework of a patrician republic, personal elements of exercising authority were at least as prominent as in monarchical countries like France.

30The French and Dutch roads to State-formation (and the English, Prussian and Swedish roads) no doubt affected the ways in which these countries later transformed into liberal, democratic states. That is another story. The Dutch Republic itself was strange but not so strange.

Notes

1 Revue du Nord, 1985, p. 1123-1126 (Review of Spierenburg, 1984; my first name was misspelled as "Peter").

2 R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices. De l’obéissance sous les rois absolus, XVe-XVIIIe siècles, Paris, 1992, p. 225. 'L'Etat moderne' means the early modern State.

3 In the passage concerned, he reviews the contributions of Marx, Weber, Foucault, Elias and myself to theorizing about criminal justice.

4 R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 230-231.

5 See p. 178, where he takes issue with Gijswijt-Hofstra.

6 R MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 230. The disturbing factor of England occasionally appears in the background (in the conclusion rather than in the rest of the book) as a 'third route.' I assume that "system of obedience" refers primarily to the political system here, but I identified four meanings of "obedience" (which he himself does not define) in Muchembled's book. Sometimes it refers to the degree in which the authorities are successful in making their subjects obey them (suggested on p. 81: obéissance and autorité belong together). However, on p. 93 we read that les désobéissances constitute a separate category of offenses, next to crimes of violence. Later on, obéissance is the same as ordre (p. 220). In the conclusion, finally, we read the quoted statement. There he seems to be talking primarily about (difference in) political systems.

7 R. LEVY, X. ROUSSEAUX, Etats, justice pénale et histoire : bilan et perspectives, Droit et Société, 1992, 20/21, p. 266.

8 R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 190.

9 R. LEVY, X. ROUSSEAUX, Etats, justice pénale et histoire..., p. 264.

10 R. BRIGGS, Communities of Belief. Cultural and Social Tension in Early Modern France, Oxford, 1989, p. 53-57; p. 384-389. R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 199, cites Briggs without responding to this criticism. Muchembled also persists in the misunderstanding that witch persecutions were never urban (p. 178-180: vs. Gijswijt-Hofstra); however, there were witch trials in Bruges, South-West German towns, around Edinburgh and in other cities.

11 R. Muchembled admits this himself (Ibidem, p. 168-169, 181-185).

12 See, among others, E. LABOUVIE, Zauberei und Hexenwerk. Landlicher Hexenglaube in der frühen Neuzeit, Frankfurt a.M., 1991; W. RUMMEL, Bauern, Herren und Hexen. Studien zur Sozialgeschichte sponheimischer und kurtrierischer Hexemprozesse, 1574-1664, Göttingen, 1991.

13 See F. BRAUDEL, Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècles (3 tomes), Paris, 1979.

14 When I first discussed my intention to investigate Dutch State-formation in the early modem period with Norbert Elias (in the early 1970s), he supposed I would find a typically bourgeois culture, exemplified by the paintings of Frans Hals. It turned out to be otherwise. The results of my investigation were first presented as a master's thesis and later revised and published as Spierenburg 1981. To be sure, the image of Dutch culture and the Dutch elites as essentially bourgeois has been kept alive by several authors. For a recent example, see Mijnhardt 1993. His views on the exceptional character of the Dutch Republic come close to Muchembled's. However, Mijnhardt presents little evidence for these views.

15 This paragraph is based on my recent synthesis: P.C. SPIERENBURG, Chapter Two. The Body and the State: Early Modern Europe, in N. MORRIS and D. J. ROTHMAN (eds.), The Oxford History of the Prison, New York, Oxford, 1995, p. 48-77.

16 C. HUYGENS (1608-1687), Briefwisseling, edited by J.A. Worp, vol. 6 (1663-1687), Den Haag, 1917, p. 349-350 (letter nr. 6944).

17 Th. W. LAQUEUR, Crowds, Carnival and the State in English Executions, 1604-1868, in A.L. BEIER et al. (eds.), The First Modern Society, Essays in English History in Honour of Lawrence Stone, Cambridge etc., 1989, p. 305-355; P. LINEBAUGH, The London Hanged. Crime and Civil Society in the 18th Century, London, 1991. In any case, 'carnivalesque' behavior was nowhere reported before about 1700.

18 V.A.C. GATRELL, The Hanging Tree. Execution and the English People, 1770-1868, Oxford, 1994.

19 Figures cited in P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter. Een Verkennende Historisch-Sociologische Beschouwing, in G. A. BANCK et al. (eds.), Gestalten van de Dood. Studies over Abortus, Euthanasie, Rouw, Zelfmoord en Doodstraf Baarn, 1980, p. 148. The sample region project was initiated by H. DIEDERIKS, S. FABER and A. HUUSSEN jr. Some results were published in H. DIEDERIKS, In een land van justitie. Criminaliteit van vrouwen, soldaten en ambtenaren in de XVIIIe eeuwse Republiek, Hilversum, 1992.

20 P.C. SPIERENBURG, The Spectacle of Suffering. Executions and the Evolution of Repression: from a Preindustrial Metropolis to the European Experience, Cambridge etc., 1984, p. 113.

21 I find this a more plausible explanation than the one referring to a sudden growth in the desire to imitate the Passion of Christ (R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 118).

22 J.A. SHARPE, Judicial Punishment in England, London, Boston, 1990, p. 28.

23 D.A. BERENTS, Het werk van de vos. Samenleving en criminaliteit in de late middeleeuwen, Zutphen, 1985, p. 190.

24 All English figures from J.A. SHARPE, Judicial punishment in England, p. 28-36. The table on p. 31 has a misprint: according to the author, the third period must be 1660-1709.

25 J.E.A. BOOMGAARD, Misdaad en straf in Amsterdam. Een onderzoek naar de strafrechtspleging van de Amsterdamse schepenbank, 1490-1552, Zwolle, Amsterdam, 1992, p. 171 (61 of these death sentences were pronounced against Anabaptists).

26 P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter..., p. 134.

27 Figures cited in P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter..., p. 133. On the Bokkerijders band, A. BLOK, De Bokkerijders. Roversbenden en geheime genoot-schappen in de Landen van Overmaas, 1730-1774, Amsterdam, 1991.

28 See R. van DÜLMEN, Theater des Schreckens. Gerichtspraxis und Strafrituale in der frühen Neuzeit, München, 1985, p. 113-114.

29 See M. FOUCAULT, Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison, Paris, 1975.

30 P.C. SPIERENBURG, De Dood op Bevel van de Rechter..., p. 131-132.

31 Thus, R. MUCHEMBLED, Société et mentalités dans la France moderne, XVIe-XVIIe siècles, Paris, 1990, p. 127, is decidedly wrong when he says that the system of lettres de cachet (= confinement on request) was "intimement liée à l'absolutisme". His views on the Amsterdam rasphouse and the role of Dirk Coornhert (R. MUCHEMBLED, Le temps des supplices..., p. 231 and 155) are also based on outdated literature. On imprisonment generally in early modem Europe: P C. SPIERENBURG, The Prison Experience. Disciplinary Institutions and their Inmates in Early Modern Europe, New Brunswick, London, 1991; on confinement on request in Holland: P.C. SPIERENBURG, Zwarte Schapen. Losbollen, Dronkaards en Levensgenieters in Achttiende-Eeuwse Beterhuizen, Hilversum, 1995.

32 See, among others, R. COBB, The Police and the People. French Popular Protest, 1789-1820, Oxford, 1970; U. DANKER, Räuberbanden im alten Reich um 1700. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte von Herrschaft und Kriminalität in der frühen Neuzeit, 2 vol., Frankfurt a.M., 1988; A. BLOK, De Bokkerijders...; F. EGMOND, Underworlds. Organized Crime in the Netherlands, 1650-1800, Cambridge, 1993.

33 P.C. SPIERENBURG, Judicial Violence in the Dutch Republic. Corporal Punishment, Executions and Torture in Amsterdam, 1650-1750, dissertation, University of Amsterdam, 1978, chapter four. I did not include a discussion of this subject in P.C. SPIERENBURG, The Spectacle of Suffering...

34 F. EGMOND, Fragmentatie, rechtsverscheidenheid en rechtsongelijkheid in dc Noordelijke Nederlanden tijdens de XVIIe en XVIIIe eeuw, in S. FABER (ed.), Nieuw licht op oude justitie. Misdaad en straf ten tijde van de Republiek, Muiderberg, 1989, p. 9-23.

35 R. DEKKER, Holland in beroering Oproeren in de XVIIe en XVIIIe eeuw, Baarn, 1982; Getrouwe broederschap. Organisatie en acties van arbeiders in preïndustrieel Holland, Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 1988, 103, p. 1-19.

36 J. SPAANS, Haarlem na de Reformalie. Stedelijke cultuur en kerkelijk leven, 1577-1620, Den Haag, 1989.

37 M. GIJSWIJT-HOFSTRA (ed.), Een schijn van verdraagzaamheid, Hilversum, 1989.

Auteur

Universitair Hoofddocent at Erasmus University, Rotterdam (The Netherlands). His major works include: The Spectacle of Suffering (1984), The Broken Spell (1988 in Dutch, 1991 in English), The Prison Experience (1991). He is presently working on violence and its sociocultural context from a long-term perspective.

© Presses de l’Université Saint-Louis, 1997

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Cette publication numérique est issue d’un traitement automatique par reconnaissance optique de caractères.
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search