Geschichte Osteuropas und Südosteuropas




Lena Marassinova (Tübingen)

Moratorium on the death penalty and punishment by repentance in Russia in the 18th century: transfer of ideas and practices

04.05.2023 14:15 Uhr – 15:45 Uhr

Oberseminar der Professur für Geschichte Russlands und Ostmitteleuropas in der Vormoderne

Vortrag im Rahmen des gemeinsamen Kolloquiums „Aufklärung/en in Ost- und Westeuropa“ mit Prof. Dr. Isabelle Deflers (Universität der Bundeswehr München)

Die Veranstaltung findet per Zoom statt:
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The report is devoted to the phenomenon of a moratorium on the death penalty in Russia in the mid-second half of the 18th century and the use of church practices to punish criminals in the context of a complex transfer of ideas of the Enlightenment, Pietism and Orthodox dogmas.

The unproclaimed abolition of the death penalty during the reign of Elizaveta Petrovna was directly related to her religious consciousness. However, the Russian experience had a strong influence on the enlightened ideas of Cesare Beccaria, who called him "a shining example that is of greater value than the victories won at the cost of the blood of the sons of the fatherland."

In her discussion of the perniciousness of the death penalty, Catherine never once refers to the moratorium of Elizaveta Petrovna. The Chapter X of Nakaz "On the Rite of the Criminal Court" is completely borrowed from the treatise of Beccaria, and the mention of the example of Russia is only a quote from the text of the Italian philosopher. Meanwhile, the empress’ confirmation of Senate sentences in murder cases and legislation restricting the use of torture during interrogation demonstrate a clear influence of the ideas of Pietism on the empress.

The use of the word of God during the interrogation and the transformation of repentance in labors and prayer in a monastery into one of the important forms of punishment become an integral part of criminal proceedings and sentences precisely as a result of the empress' confirmations. At the same time, the empress learned the postulates of Pietism already in Russia under the influence of her spiritual father Simon Todorsky, who personally knew many theologians from Halle.

Thus, the motivational reasons for the imposition of a moratorium on the death penalty in Russia, the impact of this phenomenon on the views and activities of Cesare Beccaria, as well as the latent impact of the ideas of Pietism on judicial practice show the complex transfer mechanism of the second half of the 18th century.