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Tortyr och pinligt förhör - våld och tvång i äldre svensk rätt
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies.
2000 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Torture in the past is the subject of this dissertation. The aim of the study is to discuss one of the grand narratives of Swedish history. In an evolutionary frame Sweden has been put forward as a country which early developed judicial security for citizens. This dissertation contains a critique against an objectivistic view of the concept of knowledge. It proposes instead an evolutionary concept. In the discussion of sources I argue that although historians have been skilful in their evaluation of sources important problems still remains.

The phenomenon of torture is here investigated at three different levels, as discourse, as norm and as practice. A point of departure is an overview of the discourse of torture and the use of torture in the past, from ancient times to the beginning of the early modern period in Europe. The purpose of that study is to gain some general insight concerning torture to which the main study, with focus on the phenomenon of torture in Sweden, could be related. The presentation of the history of torture starts in ancient Greece. The ability to use torture was regulated in Greek society. An important element in the discourse concerns a social regulation of torture; another is the connection with different concepts of truth.

The conditions for the use of torture have changed over time. In early Middle Ages the practice of ordeals was common in Europe. In difficult cases tribes decided guilt with help from God. When the Christian church during the High Middle Ages rose to power it prohibited the use of ordeals. The obvious consequence of this act was that people had to make decisions by themselves, when they no longer could turn to God’s will when making decisions in severe judicial cases. In this context torture became important and was put into use. The existence of ordeals has been an obstacle to the use of torture. Torture had a strong position at the end of the medieval era, and this dissertation discusses whether the legislation is to be understood as implementation of torture or as regulation of an already existing practice.

The first study of torture in a Swedish context deals with the discourse concerning the concept of torture. It is found that accusations of use of torture were used in propaganda and that torture in this context was understood as something unswedish and shameful.

Next part focuses on the Old Swedish legislation prior to 1614. It is found that there is a prohibition against torture in the legislation from the fourteenth century, which must be regarded as a first attempt in Swedish law to regulate the use of torture. The study also focuses on the fact that the plaintiff had such extensive rights, that these could enable use of torture.

The last part of the dissertation deals with the legal practice in Stockholm between 1474 and 1614. It identifies places for torture, actors and the judicial context in which the use of torture was practised.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för historiska studier, Umeå , 2000. , 198 p.
Forskningsrapporter från Institutionen för historiska studier vid Umeå universitet, ISSN 1404-4153 ; 15
Keyword [en]
Tortyr, diskurs, lagstiftning, rättsskipning, medeltid, tidigmodern tid, svensk historia
National Category
History History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-13230ISBN: 91-7191-928-7OAI: diva2:152901
Available from: 2007-05-06 Created: 2007-05-06 Last updated: 2012-09-25Bibliographically approved

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