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The project of providing galley-slaves for the Habsburg military navy (1714-1734) and its connection with criminal law and practice

Dragica Čeč

Puni tekst: slovenski pdf 576 Kb


str. 237-260

preuzimanja: 540



In the introduction the article deals with the political and economic context which had influenced the project of establishing the Habsburg war galleys and military navy. Th e main part of the article deals with presence of the special type of penal labour – galley-slaves - in criminal law and with analysis of practices of providing the galley slaves to the war galleys.Despite the long legal tradition of sentencing to penal labour in penal law, the penalty of galley–slaves demonstrates how the political and economic objectives
of the monarchy influenced the changes in penal law. Analysis of legal practice shows that the courts quickly put the new legal norms (sentencing to galleyslaves) into the practice. In some years the insensitivity of sentencing to galleyslaves showed pressing demand for manpower on the new warships.The process of legal adaptation of galley-slaves had begun with Habsburg acquisition of the new territory after the War of Spanish Succession. From 1716 the intense change from the penalty of expulsion (for some crimes) into the penalty of forced labour of galley-slaves could be traced. The changes in criminal law were broadly accepted also because of the perception of forced labour as an effective punishment with general preventive effect. The major difficulty in the fullfilment of the new penalty represented the transfer of the galley-slaves from the place of conviction to the galleys, which may render the original plans of high politics. Transport of criminals from the place of conviction to the Kingdom of Naples consisted of a quite basic system, which laid particularly on the
shoulders of rural communities of commoners. Despite the initial difficulties due to the escapes of galley-slaves from the transports and despite the relatively high cost of the transportation, the same system of transportation was kept until the loss of the Kingdom of Naples. Analysis of the initial problems with transports of galley-slaves and the rigorous control of central authorities in Vienna over the excesses are further evidence of the strong political interests that the Habsburg monarchy had in providing of the galley-slaves as well as in the establishment of the military navy. The transportation route of the galley-slaves was the imperial road from Maribor and Celje through Trojane and Ljubljana, and than with the boats on the Ljubljanica river to Vrhnika and then by land to Rijeka. The Slovenian folk tradition also created a somewhat exotic character of a galley-slave and included it in its collective memory and imagination.

Ključne riječi

penal legislation; galley-slaves; 1713-1734; transportation of convicts

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