Showing posts with label Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Law. Show all posts

15 March 2019

Cesare Beccaria - jurist and criminologist

Enlightened philosopher seen as father of criminal justice

Cesare Beccaria became part of the literary  circle in 18th century Milan
Cesare Beccaria became part of the literary
circle in 18th century Milan
The jurist and philosopher Cesare Beccaria, who is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of the so-called Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century, and whose writings had a profound influence on justice systems all over the world, was born on this day in 1738 in Milan.

As the author of a treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), which was a ground-breaking work in the field of criminal law and the approach to punishing offenders, Beccaria is considered by many academics to be the father of criminal justice.

The treatise, which Beccaria compiled when he was only 26 years old, condemned the death penalty on the grounds that the state does not possess the right to take lives and declared torture to be a barbaric practice with no place in a civilised, measured society.

It outlined five principles for an effective system of criminal justice: that punishment should have had a preventive deterrent function as opposed to being retributive; that punishment should be proportionate to the crime committed; that the probability of punishment should be seen as a more effective deterrent than its severity; that the procedures of criminal convictions should be public; and that to be effective, punishment needed to be prompt.

The reception for his ideas was such that Beccaria, who was somewhat reserved in character, became an international celebrity. He was celebrated in particular in France, where On Crimes and Punishment was published in French in 1766 and was reprinted seven times in six months. English, German, Polish, Spanish, and Dutch translations followed and an American edition was published in 1777.

Beccaria was born in this palace in the Via Brera in central Milan
Beccaria was born in this palace in
the Via Brera in central Milan
Although in many countries the death penalty was not abolished until the late 20th century and is still practised in some parts of the world, in other aspects Beccaria’s treatise exerted significant influence on criminal-law reform throughout western Europe, as well as in Russia, Sweden and the former Habsburg Empire. It also informed legislation in several American states. Founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were among those who endorsed his work.

Beccaria was brought up in Milan’s 18th century aristocracy. His father was the Marchese Gian Beccaria Bonesana. They lived in a palace in After attending the Jesuit college at Parma, Beccaria graduated in law from the University of Pavia in 1758.

His primary field of interest was mathematics and economics but he was encouraged by friends to join a literary society, through which be became acquainted with many French and British political philosophers. Much of its discussion focused on reforming the criminal justice system and Beccaria was particularly influenced by the French political philosopher Montesquieu, whose principal work was The Spirit of Laws. 

Nothing Beccaria achieved subsequently came close to the importance of On Crimes and Punishment, although he was to become a prominent economist. In 1768 he accepted the chair in public economy and commerce at the Palatine School in Milan, where his lectures formed the basis of another seminal work, published posthumously under the title Elementi di economia pubblica - Elements of Public Economy - in which he discussed ideas about the division of labour and the relations between food supply and population long before they became common currency.

Giuseppe Grandi's statue of Cesare Beccaria in Piazza Beccaria in Milan
Giuseppe Grandi's statue of Cesare
Beccaria in Piazza Beccaria in Milan
In 1771 he was appointed to the Supreme Economic Council of Milan, where he concerned himself with measures such as monetary reform, labour relations, and public education. A report written by Beccaria is said to have influenced the adoption of the metric system in France.

In his later years, Beccaria was distracted by health and family matters, including property disputes with his two brothers and sister. Although from a philosophical standpoint, he greeted the start of the French Revolution in 1789 with enthusiasm, his horror and dismay at the violence that ensued caused him much sadness and he became withdrawn. He died in 1974 at the age of only 56.

Beccaria was married twice and had five children. Through the first of them, Giulia, he was the grandfather of Alessandro Manzoni, the novelist whose most famous work I promessi sposi - The Betrothed - was one of the first Italian historical novels and is seen as a masterpiece of Italian literature.

Milan's Teatro alla Scala - commonly known as "La Scala" -
was built in the late 18th century
Travel tip:

The cultural golden age experienced by Italy in common with much of Europe in the 18th century included the construction of Milan’s most famous cultural landmark, the theatre and opera house Teatro alla Scala. Built to replace the Teatro Regio Ducale, which was destroyed in a fire, the theatre was designed by the neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini. The initial design was rejected by Count Firmian, the governor of what was then Austrian Lombardy, but a second plan was accepted in 1776 by Empress Maria Theresa. The new theatre was built on the former location of the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, from which the theatre gets its name.

The Palatine School is one of the oldest and
most prestigious schools in Milan
Travel tip:

The Palazzo delle Scuole Palatine - the Palace of the Palatine School - is located in Piazza Mercanti, which was Milan’s medieval city centre. It was once the seat of the most prestigious higher schools in the city and many  notable Milanese scholars studied or taught there. The current building dates back to 1644, when it was rebuilt by the architect Carlo Buzzi to replace an older one that had been destroyed in a fire. The school was established in Piazza Mercanti under Giovanni Maria Visconti, the second Visconti Duke of Milan. The building is decorated with several monuments, including a plaque with an epigram by the Roman poet Ausonius celebrating Milan as the "New Rome" of the fourth century, a statue of Saint Augustine by sculptor Pietro Lasagna.

14 January 2019

Alberico Gentili – international lawyer

Academic gave the world its first system of jurisprudence

Alberico Gentili moved to London after becoming a Protestant
Alberico Gentili moved to London after
becoming a Protestant
Alberico Gentili, who is regarded as one of the founders of the science of international law, was born on this day in 1552 in San Ginesio in the province of Macerata in Marche.

He was the first European academic to separate secular law from Roman Catholic theology and canon law and the earliest to write about public international law.

He became Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford in England and taught there for 21 years.

Gentili graduated as a doctor of civil law in 1572 from the University of Perugia but was exiled from Italy in 1579 and eventually went to live in England because he became a Protestant.

He taught at Oxford from 1581 until his death in 1608 and became well-known for his lectures on Roman law and his writing on legal topics.

In 1588 Gentili published De jure belli commentatio prima - First Commentary on the Law of War. This was revised in 1598 to become Three Books on the Law of War, which contained a comprehensive discussion on the laws of war and treaties.

Gentili advised Queen Elizabeth I of England
Gentili advised Queen
Elizabeth I of England
Gentili believed international law should comprise the actual practices of civilised nations, tempered by moral, but not specifically religious, considerations.

Although he rejected the authority of the church, he used the reasoning of the canon law as well as the civil law whenever it suited his purpose.

The Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius, who wrote On the Law of War and Peace in 1625, drew extensively on Gentili’s work.

Legal scholars say Gentili was the first to attempt to provide the world with anything like a regular system of natural jurisprudence.

In 1584 Queen Elizabeth I’s ministers called on Gentili and another expert in international law, Jean Hotman, to advise them on how to deal with the Spanish ambassador in London, Don Bernardino de Mendoza, who was implicated in a conspiracy against the Queen.

De Mendoza was suspected of being involved in the Throckmorton Plot, which was a conspiracy to replace Elizabeth on the throne with her Catholic cousin, Mary Queen of Scots and to restore Catholicism to England.

The Church of St Helen Bishopsgate in the City of London, where Gentili is buried
The Church of St Helen Bishopsgate in the City of
London, where Gentili is buried
Elizabeth’s Privy Council wanted De Mendoza tried for treason but they weren’t sure of the legality of this move.

Gentili and Hotman’s legal advice was that ambassadors were protected by diplomatic immunity ‘infallibly within the sanctuarie of the lawe of nations.’ They said the Privy Council’s only recourse was to order the recall of De Mendoza. Their advice was followed and when Mendoza ignored the order, he was transported to Calais.

From about 1590 Gentili practiced in the High Court of Admiralty in London where continental civil law rather than common English Law was applied.

In 1600 he was called to the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London.

Gentili died in London in 1608 and was buried in the Church of St Helen Bishopsgate in the City of London.

The square in the centre of San Ginesio in the Marche region, where Gentili was born
The square in the centre of San Ginesio in the Marche
region, where Gentili was born
Travel tip:

San Ginesio, where Gentili was born, is a town of 3,500 inhabitants in the province of Macerata in the Marche region, about 60 km (37 miles), southwest of Ancona. It is surrounded by imposing 14th century castle walls with all the defensive structures of the period still visible.  Buildings of note in the town include the Ospedale dei Pellegrini - The Hospital of the Pilgrims of St. Paul - a 13th century building with a low-column portico and loggia,and the Collegiate Church of San Ginesio, which has a noteworthy  terracotta decoration attributed to Enrico Alemanno, the only Florentine gothic style work in the Marche region.

The Piazza della Repubblica in Perugia
The Piazza della Repubblica in Perugia
Travel tip:

Gentili graduated from the 14th century University of Perugia, in the capital city of the region of Umbria. A stunning sight on a hilltop, Perugia, which was one of the main Etruscan cities of Italy, is also home to a second university for foreign students learning Italian.  Some 34,000 students bolster the population each year. Perugia is a notable centre for culture and the arts, hosting the world-renowned Umbria Jazz Festival each July. It also hosts a chocolate festival – Perugia being the home of the Perugina chocolate company, famous for Baci.  The artist Pietro Vannucci, commonly known as Perugino, lived in nearby Città della Pieve and was the teacher of Raphael.

More reading:

The medieval lawyer who wrote more than 3,000 opinions

Giuseppe 'Peppino' Prisco - lawyer and football administrator

The feast day of Ercolano, patron saint of Perugia

Also on this day:

1451: The birth of Franchino Gaffurio

1883: The birth of dress designer Nina Ricci

1919: The birth of political survivor Giulio Andreotti


10 December 2018

Giuseppe 'Peppino' Prisco - lawyer and football administrator

Vice-president who became Inter Milan icon

Giuseppe Prisco, a legend at Inter, proudly wears the feathered hat from his Alpini uniform
Giuseppe Prisco, a legend at Inter, proudly
wears the feathered hat from his Alpini uniform
The lawyer and football administrator Giuseppe Prisco, who served as a senior figure in the running of the Internazionale football club in Milan for more than half a century, was born on this day in 1921.

Universally known as Peppino, he managed to combine a career in legal practice with a passion for Inter that he would share so publicly he became a symbol of the club whose name was chanted on the terraces.

Born in Milan into a family with its roots in Torre Annunziata, near Naples, he was said to have fallen in love with the nerazzurri at seven years old in 1929, when he witnessed his first derby against AC Milan at Inter’s old stadium, the Campo Virgilio Fossati, between Via Goldoni and Piazza Novelli to the east of the city centre.

His career as a lawyer did not begin until after he had served with the Alpini - the mountain troops of the Italian Army - on the Russian front in the Second World War. He was only 18 when he joined up but reached the rank of lieutenant in the “L’Aquila” battalion of the 9th Alpine Regiment, and as one of only three officers from 53 to return alive from the Russian front was awarded a Silver Medal for Military Valour by the Italian government.

On returning to civilian life, he graduated in law at the University of Milan and became a registered practising lawyer in 1946, opening his own office in the city, the start of a business that would bring him success and kudos for decades.

Prisco was for many years the president of the Milanese Bar Association
Prisco was for many years the president of the
Milanese Bar Association
He was president of the Milanese Bar Association for many years and participated in numerous high profile trials, including that of the controversial Milan banker Roberto Calvi on embezzlement charges in 1981.  Calvi was released on bail pending an appeal and a year later was found in dead in London.

Prisco joined his beloved Inter in 1949 as club secretary and thereafter served as a legal advisor to the board of directors before being elected vice-president in 1963, a position he held until his death in 2001, two days after his 80th birthday.

During his time as a director of the club, Inter won six Serie A titles, two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, three UEFA Cups, two Coppa Italia titles and one Italian Super Cup.

Fans took him to their hearts after he used his legal expertise to force UEFA to overturn a defeat against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the UEFA Cup in 1971 after the Inter forward Roberto Boninsegna had to be taken off after being struck by a can thrown from the crowd.  Inter won the rematch.

He also endeared himself to the nerazzurri faithful with the sharp one-liners he would frequently deliver during television interviews when he was given the opportunity to talk about the club’s great rivals.

Prisco was presented with a special Inter shirt to mark his 50 years with the club
Prisco was presented with a special Inter
shirt to mark his 50 years with the club
Famously, he once said: "If I shake hands with a Milanese, I wash my hands, if I shake hands with a Juventus (fan), I count my fingers.”

On another occasion, he declared: “I’m against every form of racism but I’d never allow my daughter to marry a Milan player.”

At the end of the 1990s, he became a regular guest on TV sports shows such as Controcampo, in which he would often have humourous spats with presenters Diego Abatantuono and Giampiero Mughini.

Married to Maria Irene, he had two children: Luigi Maria, who followed him into the legal profession, and Anna Maria.  After his death from a heart attack, he was buried at Arcisate, a town in the province of Varese, about 70km (43 miles) north of Milan.

One of the neoclassical arches that form the entrances to Napoleon's Arena Civica in Milan
One of the neoclassical arches that form the entrances
to Napoleon's Arena Civica in Milan
Travel tip:

Inter have shared the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in San Siro with rivals AC Milan since 1947, but before that played at a number of stadiums around the city, including the Campo di Ripa Ticinese in the Ticinese district souith of the centre, the Campo Virgilio Fossati and the Arena Civica, the grandiose neoclassical stadium commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte after he had proclaimed himself King of Italy in 1905. Inter played their home games at the Arena, a kind of mini-Colosseum in the Parco Sempione, behind the Sforza Castle, from 1930 until 1958.

Travel tip:

A view over the rooftops at Torre Annunziata, looking towards the waters of Bay of Naples
A view over the rooftops at Torre Annunziata, looking
towards the waters of Bay of Naples
Torre Annunziata, where Prisco had family roots, is a city in the metropolitan area of Naples. Close to Mount Vesuvius, the original city was destroyed in the eruption of 79 AD and a new one built over the ruins. Its name derives from a watch tower - torre - built to warn people of imminent Saracen raids and a chapel consecrated to the Annunziata (Virgin Mary). It became a centre for pasta production in the early 19th century. The Villa Poppaea, also known as Villa Oplontis, believed to be owned by Nero, was discovered about 10 metres below ground level just outside the town and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

More reading:

Massimo Moratti, the business tycoon who presided over Inter's golden age

How Giuseppe Meazza became Italian football's first superstar

Why mystery still surrounds the death of 'God's banker' Roberto Calvi

Also on this day:

1813: The birth of forgotten composer Errico Petrella

1907: The birth of postwar movie star Amedeo Nazzari

1936: The death of playwright Luigi Pirandello


28 April 2018

Baldus de Ubaldis – lawyer

Legal opinions have stood the test of time

Baldus de Ubaldis wrote more than 3,000 legal opinions during his career
Baldus de Ubaldis wrote more than 3,000
legal opinions during his career
An expert in medieval Roman law, Baldus de Ubaldis, died on this day in 1400 in Pavia.

De Ubaldis had written more than 3,000 consilia - legal opinions - the most to remain preserved from any medieval lawyer.

His work on the law of evidence and gradations of proof remained the standard treatment of the subject for centuries after his death.

De Ubaldis was born into a noble family in Perugia in 1327. He studied law and received the degree of doctor of civil law when he was 17.

He taught law at the University of Bologna for three years and was then offered a professorship at Perugia University where he remained for 33 years.

De Ubaldis subsequently taught law at Pisa, Florence, Padua, Pavia and Piacenza.

He taught Pierre Roger de Beaufort, who became Pope Gregory XI, whose immediate successor, Urban VI, summoned De Ubaldis to Rome in 1380 to consult with him about the anti-pope, Clement VII. The lawyer’s view on the legal issues relating to the schism are laid down in his Questio de schismate.

One of the best works of De Ubaldis is considered to be his commentary on the Libri Feudorum, a compilation of feudal law provisions.

The old Roman aqueduct in Perugia is now a street
The old Roman aqueduct in Perugia is now a street
Travel tip:

Perugia, where De Ubaldis was born, the capital of the region of Umbria, is a large city on a hill, established during the Etruscan period. The University of Perugia, where De Ubaldis taught law, today welcomes many foreign students. The city hosts an annual jazz festival and an annual chocolate festival.

The facade of the Certosa in Pavia
The facade of the Certosa in Pavia
Travel tip:

Pavia, where De Ubaldis died, is a city in Lombardy, about 46km (30 miles) south of Milan, known for its ancient university, which was founded in 1361, and its famous Certosa, a magnificent monastery complex north of the city that dates back to 1396. A pretty covered bridge over the River Ticino leads to Borgo Ticino, where the inhabitants claim to be the true people of Pavia and are of Sabaudian origin.