Punishment patterns for the Bolognese elite are very different from those for foreigners, but just as distinctive. Members of the elite appear repeatedly in the banishment records during the popolo period: Ten percent of the 521 banishment cases for major crimes in our sample, for example, include urban magnates and nobles of the contado. But not one magnate or noble case appears in the extant condemnation registers of the same period. Indeed, the repetition of banishment decrees against certain contado nobles, especially those from the Apennine mountains, testifies to the ability of such people to escape capture and punishment.

So violent was the life style of certain of the urban magnates and contalo nobles that the popular government labeled such individuals as “lupi rapaces” (rapacious wolves) and required them to post securities guaranteeing their good behavior. The technique was not effective, however, and a number of the “lupi rapaces” were repeatedly banned. The terms of their bans were harsh: Perpetual banishment, decapitation if ever captured, and destruction of their properties. Actual execution of members of the elite, however, was extremely rare, and its occurence seems to have been tied to factionalism in general and to the increased bitterness of factional struggles in the early fourteenth century in particular: Those of the elite who suffered corporal punishment did so only because they had become enemies of the ruling faction.

Sarah Rubin Blanshei, “Crime and Law Enforcement in Medieval Bologna” (1982)


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