Justice Blindfolded

The Historical Course of an Image


Translators: and
Justice Blindfolded gives an overview of the history of “justice” and its iconography through the centuries. Justice has been portrayed as a woman with scales, or holding a sword, or, since the fifteenth century, with her eyes bandaged. This last symbol contains the idea that justice is both impartial and blind, reminding indirectly of the bandaged Christ on the cross, a central figure in the Christian idea of fairness and forgiveness.
In this rich and imaginative journey through history and philosophy, Prosperi manages to convey a full account of the ways justice has been described, portrayed and imagined.

Translation of Giustizia bendata. Percorsi storici di un'immagine (Einaudi, 2008).

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Adriano Prosperi, Ph.D. (1968), Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy, is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History. He has published extensively on the Reformation, the Tridentine Council, and the idea of faith in Western Europe. His most recent books are a study of Luther, Lutero. Gli anni della fede e della libertà (Milan 2017) and a history of the death penalty, Crime and Forgiveness: Christianizing Execution in Medieval Europe (Harvard University Press 2018).
“In this suggestive and original study, Adriano Prosperi traces the evolving iconography of Justice from the medieval period to the modern day, drawing on legal treatises, theological texts, pamphlets, plays, sermons, and over one hundred images ranging from manuscript illuminations to modern tattoos, with the bulk of them from the thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries.”
Nicholas Terpstra, University of Toronto. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 2 (Summer 2021), pp. 606–608.


Preface to the Italian Edition
Preface to the English Edition
List of Figures

1 Scale and Sword, Eyes and Blindfold: the Attributes of Justice
2 Justice, That is to Say God
3 The Blindfold
4 Jesus, Barabbas and the Good Thief
5 Justice and Grace
6 Miracles and Salvation
7 The Divine Eye of the Law
8 Changes in Symbols
9 The Veil of Justice and the Risks of the Limelight

This book is addressed to academic readers and educated laymen alike. It deals with themes and topics of interest for Law scholars, Art history scholars, and those with an extended interest in the history of ideas. The concept of Law as developed in American culture is also a central topic.
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