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PhD. Topics

Institute of History

Legal Norm Versus Judicial Practice in the Early Modern Period
PhD. program
World History
Name of the supervisor
Blanka Szeghyová, PhD.
Receiving school
Faculty of Arts, Comenius University Bratislava
The aim of the dissertation is to investigate the real mechanisms of judicial practice, competence and strategies of judicial institutions in comparison with contemporary legal norms on the example of a selected region or city in a narrowly defined period of time. Criminality was perceived as a sin in the early modern period, and the relationship of legal norms to judicial practice was not always straightforward or absolutely binding, given the fragmentary and unsystematic nature of the law and the absence of unified and universally applicable codes, which contributed to the predominance of local customary law and the considerable discretionary power of judges. In analyzing the chosen judicial sources, the doctoral student will focus on those facts which illuminates the ideological attitudes of judges towards defendants and criminality (on the basis of moral justifications for sentences, appeals to particular legal norms or religious sources, the nature of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, the impact of intercessions, or the possibility of commutation of sentence or reprieve), and notes tendencies towards the criminalization or decriminalization of certain offences (e.g., moral offences, offences of witchcraft and sorcery, etc.). A good knowledge of the language(s) of the chosen archival sources (usually Latin, German or Hungarian) is a prerequisite.