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Lecture 2

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York University
HIST 3850
Patrick J Connor

Fri Sept 20  Murder rate in Canada: 1.8/100K  Falling since 1976  Murder as measure of societal violence: o Western Europe: cont. set of unbroken court records o Defn constant over years o Drunk driving deaths not included o Regarded as worst crime o Almost always reported: dark figure (never reported)  Coroners and court records since 1250  Murder rates higher in past, from medieval period: 35 cases per 100K o 20X higher than rate today in Europe and Canada  1500: steady decline in rates until 1750  Unclear cause of shift o Norbert Elias “The Civilizing Process” 1939: murder, society and social behaviour  Books on etiquette – conduct manuals: how to act when person felt need to urinate, dining vs. medieval where they ate with their hands  Over time people increasingly sensitive to standards of behaviour re: dining, sex, phys aggression  Civilization never static: over 6 centuries, standards of behaviour become more strict; greater levels of self control – socio-psychological processes also connected to dev of modern state  Stability of self control went up on average in European history in last 600 years  Likelihood of engaging in violence diminished as state had monopoly on violence  Since medieval period until modern day – more sensitized to violence o What evidence is there for this civilizing process?  In murder cases  Characteristics of murder in medieval period when rate was high; low and in between period  Medieval: until 1550  Questions of honour: male body and phys expressions of masc.  Preserve of elites in society – warrior class  Collective: large groups of people related through blood or common interest, often assoc. with family  Less often instrumental: no spec. purpose, pre-meditated and drawn out over long period of time; formal ritual rules  Feud: ex. 1282 Ghent, Belgium - family feuds based on econ, social and political issues o Participants attitudes towards use of violence  Revenge murders were tolerated and governed by well-known and accepted rules. Those who didn’t want to settle dispute, 3 conditions for feud to occur:  Escalation of conflict: Someone directly concerned had to want feud to occur  Only lawful if it was governed by another set of conditions: original offence was manifest 1 Fri Sept 20  Vengeance had to be appropriate: enacted against children only whth man died first, limited to those within 4 degree of cousinship  Concept of individualism was weak. Extended family/craft guilds/uni groups gave you protection but also put you at risk. Feud violence was preserve of upper class for the most part.  Common people experienced violence without justification. But to kill a common person would be dishonorable and seen as equals.  Not spontaneous outbursts of violence; planned out for days or years. It was choreographed. Seen as maintaining honour if you committed role in murder appropriately.  1500s this behaviour was declining; presence of strong central govt ensured this feud disappeared as early as 1100s o After 1500 greater dev of concept of individuality o Greater emphasis on ideal of smaller self-contained family o New ways of social control mobilized by state: increased denunciation o More sophisticated legal system to enforce monopoly of violence o Criminalization of homicide o Murder only accepted if committed honorably o Attempted reconcilia
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