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NEITHER SONG NOR KNELL SHALL SOUND. THE BODY AND SOUL OF A SUICIDE BEFORE PATRIMONIAL COURTS IN THE PRE-ENLIGHTENMENT ERA
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The paper investigates trials conducted against suicides by patrimonial courts in the Eggenberg/ Schwarzenberg and Czernin demesnes in South Bohemia in the pre-Enlightenment era (1675–1780). Primarily, it attempts to explain the gradual tendencies toward greater leniency over the period in question, and describes the strategies involved in this form of ‘decriminalization’, especially as regards broadening the exculpatory category of ‘melancholy/madness’. The paper also strives to analyze the attitudes of various social groups whose members were involved in the investigative proceedings and subsequent trials (town officials, patrimonial aristocracy, the appellate court in Prague, local clergy, the (arch)bishop’s consistory, but also the offender’s neighbors as witnesses), and demonstrate that the gradual decriminalization was a ‘vertical’ process which occurred from the top down: the patrimonial authorities tended to show the most leniency, whereas the offender’s neighbors were usually the most disapproving.
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