The Right to Punish: Jurisdictional Disputes between Royal and Municipal Officials in Medieval Toulouse
By Patricia Turning
French History, Vol.24:1 (2010)
Abstract: Over the years, scholars have worked to unpack the meaning behind the gory punishments and numerous executions of the later Middle Ages. Most studies have concentrated on how punitive spectacles represented the king’s justice and have missed the opportunity to examine the competition over punishment between authorities outside the French royal realm. By studying criminal records from fourteenth-century Toulouse, we gain a sense that royal and municipal officials fought to secure the right to punish criminals because this was one of the most visible means to demonstrate sovereignty to a city’s constituents. This article will argue that, as the Capetian monarchy sought in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to expand its legal dominance in newly conquered territories such as Languedoc, the municipal officials of Toulouse continued to execute key criminals (despite jurisdictional limitations) as a means of subverting royal authority in the urban realm.