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The period of seventeenth and eighteenth century in Europe was dominated by the scholasticism of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The dominance of religion in State activities was the chief characteristic of that time. In political sphere, thinkers such as Hobbes and Locke were concentrating on social contract as the basis of social evolution. The concept of Divine right of king advocating supremacy of monarch was held in great esteem. As scientific knowledge was yet unknown, the concept of crime was rather vague and obscure. There was a general belief that man by nature is simple and his actions are controlled by some super power. It was generally believed that a man commits crime due to the influence of some external spirit called 'demon' or 'devil'. Thus, an offender commits a wrongful act not because of his own free will but due to the influence of some external super power. No attempt was, however, made to probe into the real causes of crime. This demnological theory of criminality propounded by the exponents of pre-classical school acknowledged the omnipotence of spirit, which they regarded as a great power. They considered crime and criminals as an evidence of the fact that the individual was possessed of devil or demon the only cure for which was testimony of the effectiveness of the spirit. Worships, sacrifices and ordeals by water and fire were usually prescribed to specify the spirit and relieve the victim from its evil influence. Trial by battle was common mode of deciding the fate of criminal. The right of society to punish the offender was, however, well recognized. The offender was regarded as an innately depraved person who could be cured only by torture and pain. The evolution of criminal law was yet at a rudimentary stage. Hobbes suggested that fear of punishment at the hands of monarch was a sufficient deterrent for the members of early society to keep them away from sinful acts which were synonymous to crimes. Thus, the theosophists, notably St. Thomas Acquinas and the social contract writers such as Donte Alighieri, Machiavelli, Martin Luther and Jean Bodin provided immediate background for Beccaria's classical school at a later stage. The pre-classical thinking, however, withered away with the lapse of time and advancement of knowledge. The principle of divine intervention especially through ordeals was in vogue in ancient India as well. The oaths and ordeals played a very important role in the ancient judicial system in determining the guilt of the offender. The justification advanced for these rituals was the familiar belief that "when the human agency fails, recourse to divine means of proof becomes most inevitable". Though these practices appear to be most irrational and barbarious to the modern mind, they were universally accepted and were in existence in most Christian countries till thirteenth century. The Roman law completely ignored the system of ordeals and it was forbidden in Quran. The validity of trial by ordeal was questioned even by ancient authorities such as Purvapaksa but ever since the time of Manu it has been repeatedly argued that ordeals are the creations of Brahma and have been practiced by gods, great sages and all thoughtful persons. Medhatithi further pointed out that ordeals have worked efficiently since time of sages and there are examples of Vasistha, Vatsa and others who tried such tests with success. The system, however, fell into disuse with the advent of British rule in India and subsequent rationalization of the penal law.
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Essay on Pre-classical School of Criminology
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Essay On Pre-classical School Of Criminology

Words: 579    Pages: 2    Paragraphs: 11    Sentences: 29    Read Time: 02:06
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              The period of seventeenth and eighteenth century in Europe was dominated by the scholasticism of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The dominance of religion in State activities was the chief characteristic of that time. In political sphere, thinkers such as Hobbes and Locke were concentrating on social contract as the basis of social evolution.
             
              The concept of Divine right of king advocating supremacy of monarch was held in great esteem. As scientific knowledge was yet unknown, the concept of crime was rather vague and obscure. There was a general belief that man by nature is simple and his actions are controlled by some super power.
             
              It was generally believed that a man commits crime due to the influence of some external spirit called 'demon' or 'devil'. Thus, an offender commits a wrongful act not because of his own free will but due to the influence of some external super power. No attempt was, however, made to probe into the real causes of crime.
             
              This demnological theory of criminality propounded by the exponents of pre-classical school acknowledged the omnipotence of spirit, which they regarded as a great power. They considered crime and criminals as an evidence of the fact that the individual was possessed of devil or demon the only cure for which was testimony of the effectiveness of the spirit.
             
              Worships, sacrifices and ordeals by water and fire were usually prescribed to specify the spirit and relieve the victim from its evil influence. Trial by battle was common mode of deciding the fate of criminal. The right of society to punish the offender was, however, well recognized.
             
              The offender was regarded as an innately depraved person who could be cured only by torture and pain. The evolution of criminal law was yet at a rudimentary stage. Hobbes suggested that fear of punishment at the hands of monarch was a sufficient deterrent for the members of early society to keep them away from sinful acts which were synonymous to crimes.
             
              Thus, the theosophists, notably St. Thomas Acquinas and the social contract writers such as Donte Alighieri, Machiavelli, Martin Luther and Jean Bodin provided immediate background for Beccaria's classical school at a later stage. The pre-classical thinking, however, withered away with the lapse of time and advancement of knowledge.
             
              The principle of divine intervention especially through ordeals was in vogue in ancient India as well. The oaths and ordeals played a very important role in the ancient judicial system in determining the guilt of the offender. The justification advanced for these rituals was the familiar belief that "when the human agency fails, recourse to divine means of proof becomes most inevitable".
             
              Though these practices appear to be most irrational and barbarious to the modern mind, they were universally accepted and were in existence in most Christian countries till thirteenth century. The Roman law completely ignored the system of ordeals and it was forbidden in Quran.
             
              The validity of trial by ordeal was questioned even by ancient authorities such as Purvapaksa but ever since the time of Manu it has been repeatedly argued that ordeals are the creations of Brahma and have been practiced by gods, great sages and all thoughtful persons.
             
              Medhatithi further pointed out that ordeals have worked efficiently since time of sages and there are examples of Vasistha, Vatsa and others who tried such tests with success. The system, however, fell into disuse with the advent of British rule in India and subsequent rationalization of the penal law.
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