One of the major topics of the second half of the semester has been a series of developments in procedure during the Middle Ages. One of the most controversial of these development was the revived use of judicial torture as a form of proof. Torture became the subject of renewed interest by historians in the early 2000s during the initial years of the “War on Terror” and the United States’ own controversial use of torture. Torture allows us to examine how two different schools of legal history, each with its own assumptions, questions, and preferred sources, approach the same topic.
Read Ken Pennington’s “Torture and Fear: Enemies of Justice” and excerpt from Sarah Rubin Blanshei’s Politics and Justice in Late-Medieval Bologna, and respond to the following questions in a three-page paper. What are the authors’ essential arguments about the idea and use of torture in medieval courts? How do the authors differ from one another, and how are they similar? What might account for these differences in interpretation?