A Game of Norms

Migrants, Crime and Criminal Justice in Early Modern Bologna


  • Sanne Muurling Radboud University Nijmegen




While the treatment of migrants in the criminal justice system has recently been designated one of the most relevant research directions in the history of crime, scholarship on the period before the nineteenth century and outside of England or Holland remains far and few between. This article offers a first exploration of the role of offenders’ geographical origins in the administration of criminal justice in an early modern Italian city. It scrutinizes patterns of prosecution and sentencing for three distinct types of crime (pauper mobility, theft, and violence) brought before Bologna’s secular criminal court in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. By doing so, it reveals both the variability of repertoires of inclusion and exclusion across the spectrum of criminalized behaviours, and the different stages at which a migrant past could pose a disadvantage in the personalized game with the norms we call early modern criminal justice.


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Author Biography

  • Sanne Muurling, Radboud University Nijmegen

    Sanne Muurling is Assistant Professor of social history at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She specializes in the dynamics of gender and social inequalities between 1600 and 1900, working on topics of crime, institutions of control and care, and death and disease. She is the author of Everyday Crime, Criminal Justice and Gender in Early Modern Bologna (2021).




How to Cite

A Game of Norms: Migrants, Crime and Criminal Justice in Early Modern Bologna. (2023). TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.52024/tseg.13644