In fifteenth-century Flanders, family mattered in the resolution of violent conflicts. Despite a complex judicial bureaucracy, peace agreements between families still played a role in urban justice, and groups of family members often shared guilt collectively for violent crimes. Statistics from bailiff accounts as well as naming conventions suggest that it was the nuclear family, in particular, that was important. By the sixteenth century, however, the landscape of urban justice had shifted and the family no longer played such a large role. Violent crime was increasingly seen as a challenge to state authority, as opposed to a conflict between two families. However, this movement away from a more “medieval” form of justice, characterized by financial penalties and familial reconciliation, to an early modern punishment-focused system did not undermine the value of the nuclear family. The work of the executioner, 1400-1520, served to strengthen family ties by reinforcing hierarchies within the family, rather than weakening them.

Pardon_Tables.docx (16 kB)