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Original scientific paper

'Coram domino comite et suis iudicibus...': Criminal Procedure in Dubrovnik at the Begining of the XIVth Century

Nella Lonza orcid id ; Institute for Historical Sciences of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Dubrovnik, Croatia

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The author analyses the unpublished penal register of Dubrovnik from 1312- 1313 (Historical Archives Dubrovnik, Lamenti politici, 1). Initially, the balance of power between the Venetian count and judges who were members of patrician families of Dubrovnik is shown. The court initiates the procedure only in the most sensitive cases; the aggrieved can usually decide not only on the engagement of the judicial mechanism, but also on its termination - in case the solution has been reached by alternative, extrajudicial means. In spite of some differences, it is obvious that practice has formed the unique, mixed type of procedure with prevalent inquisitorial principles. The law of proof in court cases is far more complex than its regulation by the 1272 Statute, both in types of evidence (e.g. confession on torture, medical examination), as well as in their role in forming the judgement. The legal theory of evidence prescribes the cognitive minimum only for the most serious crimes, and beyond them does not restrict the judge’s free evaluation. Sometimes the issue is covered by decisions on procedural matters (e.g. the acceptance of the witness’s statement). The penal system is based on fines, in transition from the era of corporal punishments to the era of imprisonment. The social stratification is not reflected in different penal policy towards the patricians and plebeians, as it would be expected. There is much more cases of verbal aggression and assaults than those on property offences (but one must have in mind that conflicts can also be solved within restricted social groups). Public authorities do not react only with retributive measures, but also intend to prevent social behavior which may lead to the escalation of violence.


Dubrovnik Republic, criminal procedure, rector

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