1735: Nicholas Bighelini, Mantua betrayer A Day in the Death Penalty Around the Martyrology

Themed Set: Italy

August 8th, 2016 Headsman

Italy today might be the capital of the anti-capital punishment movement; it’s turned the Roman Colosseum — whose thirsty sands once drank so much state-spilled blood — into a sort of permanent monument to abolition that’s lit up beautifully in celebration of repeals and moratoria all around the world.

Obviously, it was not always thus. Never mind the ancient punishments from ancient Rome’s foggy infancy or her Etruscan ancestry; the papacy which today shows so prominently against the executioner in the 19th century employed one of the most famous of the species, to the admiration of tourists.

Italy as a whole only officially got rid of the death penalty on January 1, 1948, but it does have a deeper heritage to claim. The then-independent Grand Duchy of Tuscany enjoys pride of place for its 1786 abolition — on November 30, to be exact, a date which is now a public holiday in Tuscany and observed internationally as Cities for Life Day.

So, fine, everyone has a few skeletons in the closet even if they’re not on the execution playing cards. For the next few days we’ll pull on our boots and wade through Italy’s.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Themed Sets

One thought on “Themed Set: Italy”

  1. The Grand Duchy of Tuscany was a model state of the Enlightment and ruled wisely by the later Emperor Leopold of Hapsburg. I think the first ruler to abolish the death penalty was Empress Elizabeth of Russia (!) a few decades earlier. In the 18th century abolition was freely discussed in the salons. Little they knew the upcoming French Revolution would make 2 million victims…

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