Arsonist
(1,078 words)

An arsonist, or “incendiary,” to use the early modern term, was a criminal who deliberately, without regard for the lives of others, and frequently on behalf of a third party, raised fires or threatened to do so (Arson). The German term for a first-degree arsonist, Mordbrenner (“murderous incendiary”) combines the concepts of “murder” (Mord) and “arson” (Brand[stiftung]). Because the crime was mostly committed in darkness, first-degree arson was sometimes called “nocturnal incendiarism” (Nachtbrand). The punishment for this most serious form of arson, as laid down in mediev…

Cite this page
Reinholdt, Katharina, “Arsonist”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 30 March 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_024301>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321



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