Crime and Punishment in the Patriarchal Court of Constantinople in Late Byzantium, 1261-1453
The Patriarchal court was one of the two major courts in Constantinople in the Late Byzantine period together with the imperial tribunal. Although it is an ecclesiastical court per se, its jurisdiction was never clearly defined, and it gradually adjudicated more and more lay cases in addition to clerical and monastic ones. This dissertation investigates the cases of crimes, offenses, and disputes in order to better understand the jurisdictional duties of the Patriarchal court in the Late Byzantine society, state, and the Byzantine churches and monasteries. The social cases mostly concern economic issues such as credit, real estate, and business partnerships; and familial issues such as marriage, divorce, and dowry which include not just couples but also widows and children. There were several other types of social crimes and offenses such as theft, rape, and magic tried at the Patriarchal court. Among the cases related to the ecclesiastical sphere one can find simony, heresy, dissension, and sacrilege. However, the Patriarchal registers demonstrate that a good number of those cases were either political or politicized, involving either the politicians themselves or those who utilized their affiliation with politicians at the Patriarchal court to obtain a favourable decision. For this reason, this dissertation takes a trilateral approach to examine the cases: it looks at social, political and politicized, as well as ecclesiastical and monastic crimes and disputes. Several scholars since the Enlightenment period have argued that the Medieval justice system was cruel, arbitrary, and secretive, and that justice systems have steadily progressed since then. This study aims to prove that the decisions made by the Patriarchal court in the Medieval period were, to the contrary, humane, corrective, transparent, and evidence-based. The Patriarchal court also frequently aimed to rehabilitate culprits through threats and occasionally through punishments, and it strove to protect the disadvantaged in its capacity to do so to such an extent that it sometimes chose not to apply its own laws to certain culprits.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/28203
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