A Lutheran Plague

Murdering to Die in the Eighteenth Century

Series:

To kill someone purely in order to be sentenced to death and then to die at the hands of the executioner! Such murders were alarmingly frequent in eighteenth-century Lutheran Europe. The book traces the complex motives behind these crimes – an investigation that leads not only to the Pietist interest in saving the souls of those sentenced to death but also into some of the central elements of Lutheran soteriology and the idea of capital punishment as being divinely ordained.
The murders prompted special legislation and challenged the religious basis of the death penalty, and the killings and the logic behind them played an important role in debates about capital punishment, following Beccaria.
Although much less frequent than in Lutheran Europe, such crimes are still committed elsewhere in eighteenth-century Europe, and even in the present-day US. Thus they seem to go hand in hand with the death penalty, irrespective of time and space.

At dræbe nogen alene for at blive dødsdømt og henrettet af bødelen!. Sådanne mord var alarmerende hyppige i 1700-tallets lutherske Europa. Bogen eftersporer de komplekse motiver bag disse forbrydelser - en undersøgelse der fører ikke bare til det pietistiske engagement i at frelse de dødsdømtes sjæle, men også til centrale dele af den lutherske frelseforståelse og til forestillingen om, at dødsstraffene var direkte beordrede af Gud.
Bogen har selvmordsmordene i København og den danske stats bekæmpelse af selvmordsmordene som udgangspunkt, men indeholder også et europæisk udblik. Mordene førte til særlig lovgivning og udforderde de religiøst motiverede dødsstraffe. Her blev Danmark foregangsland, da man i 1767 helt ekstraordinært afskaffede dødsstraffen for disse mord.
Om end meget sjældnere end i det lutherske Europa ses selvmordsmord også i det øvrige Europa i 1700-tallet såvel som i vore dages USA. De synes således at ledsage dødsstraffen overalt, hvor den er i brug.
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Biographical Note

Tyge Krogh, PhD (1991) Dr. Phil. (2000) in History, University of Copenhagen, is senior researcher at the Danish National Archives. He has published on Danish early modern cultural and criminal history including Oplysningstiden og det magiske. Henrettelser og korporlige straffe i 1700-tallets første halvdel (The Enlightenment and the magical. Executions and corporal punishments in Denmark in the first half of the eighteenth century) (Samleren, Copenhagen, 2000)

Review Quote

"[S]ei festgehalten, dass Tyge Krogh mit dem vorliegenden Buch eine anregende, gut strukturierte Studie vorlegt, die eine wichtige Ergänzung und Bereicherung für die historische Kriminalitätsforschung und Suizidforschung darstellt. Nicht zuletzt kann die Lektüre als Inspiration für weiterführende Untersuchungen, vor allem über den katholischen Raum, gesehen werden." – Evelyne Luef, in: Recensio.net (Frühneuzeit-Info) 24 (2013), pp. 104-105
"Tyge Krogh has provided an interesting and useful study, based primarily on Danish court records, that is the first book-length analysis of suicidal murders. [He has] written the most complete and compelling analysis thus far of the perplexing early modern phenomenon of suicide murders." – Jeffrey R. Watts, in: Church History and Religious Culture 93/1 (2013), pp. 147-148
"[A] valuable study that will remain the standard work on suicide murder for years to come." – Pieter Spierenburg, in: Historisk Tidsskrift 112 (2012), pp. 612-615
"Tyge Krogh [har] med denne bog begået et glimrende og ganske læseværdigt studie af et noget gruopvækkende emne. Det internationale perspektiv understreger Kroghs analyser af det danske materiale på en ganske overbevisende og skarpsindig måde og gør at bogen appellerer til internationale forskningskredse." – Michael Nobel Jakobsen, in: 1066 Tidsskrift for historie 42/3 (2012), pp. 60-63
"Kroghs fornemme studie står stærkt med sine stramt fremlagte resultater og velargumenterede konklusioner. Bogen er forbilledligt kortfattet, men man fornemmer alligevel det store – og i dansk sammenhæng tematisk enestående – arbejde, der ligger bag." – Af Ulrik Langen, in: Weekendavisen 12 (23 March 2012), p. 7

Table of contents

Acknowledgements
List of Illustrations
List of Tables

1. Introduction

PART I: MORPHOLOGY
2. Frequency
3. The Murderers’ Social Situation and Mental State
4. Religious Motives
5. The Authorities and the Murders
6. Pietism and the Murderers
7. Motives
8. Boundaries

PART II: ORIGINS
9. Divine Demands
10. Salvation of the Soul
11. A Lutheran Plague

PART III: DEMISE
12. The Danish Decree of 1767
13. Measures Taken Against the Suicide Murders in Germany
14. The Role of Suicide Murders in the Penal Reform Debates
15. From Salvation to Insanity

16. Conclusion

Appendix: Suicide Murder Cases in Copenhagen, 1697–1789
Bibliography

Readership

All those interested in cultural history, the early modern history of Europe, criminal and legal history and history of religion

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