Torture and the Law of Proof: Europe and England in the Ancien Regime

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Overview

"In Torture and the Law of Proof, John H. Langbein explores the world of the thumbscrew and the rack, engines of torture authorized for investigating crime in European legal systems from medieval times until well into the eighteenth century. Drawing on juristic literature and legal records, Langbein's book, first published in 1977, remains the definitive account of how European legal systems became dependent on the use of torture in their routine criminal procedures, and how they eventually worked themselves free of it." This book has recently taken on an eerie relevance as a consequence of interrogation practices in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A new preface contrasts the "new" law of torture with the older European law, and draws some pointed lessons about the difficulty of reconciling coercion with accurate investigation.
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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review - Charles Carlton

“Like all good monographs, Torture and the Law of Proof not only does what it sets out to do well but points to new directions. It is a concise scholarly work that compares two legal systems with graceful ease and has provocative implications extending far beyond the sleazy world of rack, strappado, and thumb screw.”
American Historical Review
Like all good monographs, Torture and the Law of Proof not only does what it sets out to do well but points to new directions. It is a concise scholarly work that compares two legal systems with graceful ease and has provocative implications extending far beyond the sleazy world of rack, strappado, and thumb screw.”

— Charles Carlton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226468068
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/1977
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author


John H. Langbein is the Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale University. He is the editor or author of several books, including, most recently, The Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial.
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Table of Contents

1 Torture and the law of proof 3
2 The transformation of criminal sanctions 27
3 The revolution in the law of proof 45
4 The abolition of judicial torture 61
5 The torture-free law of proof 73
6 The torture warrants 1540-1640 81
7 The theory of torture 129
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