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BRUNI, Francesco, SUZZARA, Guido da, UBALDI, Baldo degli


Tractatus de indiciis, et tortura.

Venice, [in aedibus Francisci Bindoni & Maphei Pasini], 1549.


8vo. ff. (xii) 96 [99]. Roman letter. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials. Minor spotting to a few upper margins, light ink stain to lower outer corner of couple of gatherings, lower margin of fol. 66 trimmed. An excellent copy in reused contemporary vellum, traces of ties, minor repair to lower corners, recased.

Excellent copy of this most important collection of medieval and early modern treatises on criminal law regulations concerning the use of torture. First published in 1495, Francesco Bruni’s (fl. late C15-early C16) ‘Tractatus’ was based on his professional experience as judge in Siena. The first parts deals with ‘indicia’ (circumstantial evidence), how they are defined and proved and which ones can justify torture or sentencing—fundamental questions addressed in the formulation of the much later theory of ‘reasonable doubt’. The second deals with torture, providing regulations on when, if and how it should be used, and its effects, as well as launching an attack against ‘perverse’ judges who invented new kinds of torture ‘for pleasure’. The second and third treatises by the renowned jurists Guido da Suzzara (1225-92) and Baldo degli Ubaldi (1327-1400) address similar questions with a practical stance, according to the structure of medieval legal manuals presenting answers to specific questions. Both identify thorny circumstances making the use of torture problematic—from the age of prisoners (e.g., torture was prohibited against children under 14 and the elderly) to the extent and force of its administration and the behaviour of authorities (e.g., if a prisoner could not be tortured he should not deprived of food as a form of indirect torture). Three most important works of criminal law which had a long-lasting influence on the Western judicial system.

BM STC It., p. 128. Not in Brunet or Graesse.