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Holenstein, A., Konersmann, F., Pauser, J., Sälter, G., (Eds.), Policey in lokalen Räumen. Ordnungskräfte und Sicherheitspersonal in Gemeinden und Territorien vom Spätmittelalter bis zum frühen 19. Jahrhundert

Frankfurt am Main, Vittorio Klostermann, 2002, 439 pp., ISBN 3-465-03226-8 (Studien zu Policey und Policeywissenschaft)
Susanne Pohl
p. 116-118
Référence(s) :

Holenstein, A., Konersmann, F., Pauser, J., Sälter, G., (Eds.), Policey in lokalen Räumen. Ordnungskräfte und Sicherheitspersonal in Gemeinden und Territorien vom Spätmittelalter bis zum frühen 19. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main, Vittorio Klostermann, 2002, 439 pp., ISBN 3-465-03226-8 (Studien zu Policey und Policeywissenschaft).

Texte intégral

1The development of local policing has so far received only a cursory treatment in the historiography on crime and society in early modern Europe. Policey in lokalen Räumen addresses this gap with sixteen articles about the practice of police work in early modern Germany, Austria and France. An excellent introduction prepares the reader for these case studies. The editors provide an overview of the existing historiography and a detailed description of the various offices that existed with the local policing of early modern Europe. The introduction also lists important problems that emerge from the – often scanty – sources, such as the effectiveness of early modern policing or the place of keepers of public order in local society. The articles deepen the discussion of these questions and problems. Several authors address the existing lack of information in the historiography about the different offices existing in early modern Europe. Bettina Blessing, for example, provides a detailed overview of the various tasks of Regensburger city officials as well as a discussion of their salaries and their social positions. Competing governmental claims often rendered the tasks of local officials difficult. Martin Scheutz’s case study about the court official of the Austrian town Scheibs analyzes how this «servant of two masters» had to answer to both the market court and the criminal court. Insufficient salaries constituted other problems local officials faced. In an illuminating case study, Gerhard Fritz shows how Württembergian officials had to resort to jobs as tailors or shoemakers to stretch their meager salaries. Justus Goldmann offers a rare insight into an important aspect of police work in the nineteenth century: the care of medical emergency cases. Josef Pauser discusses the increasing differentiation of offices during the early modern period in the Austrian town of Zwettl. He also addresses the growing social stigmatization of city officials despite magisterial declarations of their honorableness. Andrea Bendlage’s article about city officials in early modern Nürnberg explores the question of their social acceptance further. She demonstrates a decisive change during the second half of the sixteenth century from a relative acceptance to an increasing social stigmatization of Nürnberger officials. Since 1550, Nürnberger citizens came to despise local officials as the employees of a city council that increasingly interfered with the life and work of artisans. Barbara Krug-Richter offers valuable insight into the social contacts of the court official in seventeenth century Canstein. His position was ambivalent. The Cansteiner court official was an acceptable drinking companion, but respectable citizens would not enter into permanent social relationships with him.

2Traditionally, historians have often regarded the low number of early modern police officials as a sign of a weak executive. The contributors to this collection agree that historians should not analyze the practice of policing in terms of strict dichotomies, such as effectiveness/ineffectiveness. Rather, the enforcement of statutes and edicts was necessarily conceived as an ongoing negotiation between officials, state authorities and citizens over at times conflicting local and governmental values and claims. Important factors in this negotiation were the roots and ties that officials had in local communities and culture. Ulrich Henselmeyer, for example, argues that city officials in late medieval Nürnberg frequently resorted to violence not so much because they were particularly incapable or brutal, but because violence was an acceptable means of conflict resolution in premodern Europe. Achim Landwehr describes the community ties of officials in early modern Leonberg who at times even tolerated local resistance to governmental edicts. Social ties could render governmental control of officials difficult, as Gerhard Sälter shows. He discusses how the buying of offices in Paris around 1700 created whole family dynasties of police and court officials with ideal possibilities to cover up corruption and abuse. The necessity for a constant negotiation of the tension between local and governmental values increased during the early modern period. Vadim Oswalt describes the growing conflict between these values in nineteenth century Württemberg as governmental agencies sought to reform and «enlighten» rural communities.

3The historical development of police forces was not a straightforward path in the early modern period. Territorial governments and city councils tried different experiments. Karl Haerter’s article offers excellent insight into such an experiment. He analyzes the emergence of the Kreisleutnant in the upper Rhine area. The Kreisleutnant’s main task was the capture of vagabonds. Often a former vagabond himself, this lieutenant moved between territories that belonged to an administrative unit called Kreis. State authorities did not have much control over the wide roaming lieutenant, as the illuminating case of the «Great Galantho» demonstrates. This lieutenant, also a former vagabond, had actually killed his predecessor. When evidence of the homicide surfaced, the territories within the Kreis disagreed on how to handle the case. Such problems and disagreements probably contributed to the elimination of the office of the Kreisleutnant and the subsequent development of police forces on the territorial level since the late eighteenth century. Ralf Pröve describes another detour in the development of professional police forces. During the first half of the nineteenth century, liberalism inspired the so-called «armed citizen debate.» Yet the conflicts and turmoil of the 1840’s occasioned a rift among middle class citizens. The more privileged groups turned again to the state for protection and rejected citizens’ initiatives to defend their communities themselves. Three of the articles in the collection address the employment of soldiers to police cities and villages in early modern Europe. Jutta Nowosadtko emphasizes in her illuminating study on eighteenth-century Münster that historians should view police work as an important part of the military’s task, rather than as a sign of insufficient professionalism of early modern armies. Nowosadtko and other authors analyze how the frequent employment of soldiers in the maintenance of order in premodern communities could result in conflicts with the local population. In his interesting essay on former soldiers who captured vagabonds in early modern Baden, Andre Holenstein discusses the tension between local officials and these soldiers. Susanne Pils analyzes the work of soldiers who guarded the city walls in early modern Vienna and describes sources of conflict between them and Viennese citizens. Policey in lokalen Räumen is a valuable addition to the existing literature on crime and society, an excellent introduction to the history of the police in early modern Europe and will hopefully stimulate more research on this interesting subject.

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Référence papier

Susanne Pohl, « Holenstein, A., Konersmann, F., Pauser, J., Sälter, G., (Eds.), Policey in lokalen Räumen. Ordnungskräfte und Sicherheitspersonal in Gemeinden und Territorien vom Spätmittelalter bis zum frühen 19. Jahrhundert », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies, Vol. 7, n°2 | 2003, 116-118.

Référence électronique

Susanne Pohl, « Holenstein, A., Konersmann, F., Pauser, J., Sälter, G., (Eds.), Policey in lokalen Räumen. Ordnungskräfte und Sicherheitspersonal in Gemeinden und Territorien vom Spätmittelalter bis zum frühen 19. Jahrhundert », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies [En ligne], Vol. 7, n°2 | 2003, mis en ligne le 23 février 2009, consulté le 19 octobre 2017. URL : http://chs.revues.org/559

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Susanne Pohl

Cornell University

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