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Journal > Volumes > 35 (2004) / 4 (Winter)
Justice in the Age of Lordship: A Feudal Court in Tuscany during the Medici Era (1619–66)
Gregory Hanlon
Dalhousie University

Expectations of justice in a Tuscan fief were not much different from those of today, because they were deeply rooted in universal emotions governing exchange and reciprocity. Where villagers had easy access to a magistrate (both civil and criminal), they availed themselves of the tribunal whose mechanisms they understood and accepted. The relative efficiency of the feudal tribunal encouraged villagers to go back to it, at least to settle those grievances that elicited in them the most outrage. The magistrate, for his part, was careful not to create durable wounds in the public body that would incite families to spurn the tribunal in favor of private vendetta. The linchpin of justice was the faraway marchese, whose high status ensured that no local delinquent enjoyed impunity.

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