Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access

(779 words)

A hostage is a physical person, whose life and limb are under the power of a host on account of an obligation undertaken on one’s own or on another’s behalf. The legal institution of hostage-taking is known in all cultures since Antiquity [6]. It gives form to the idea of liability and serves as an additional type of security alongside promises, oaths, one’s word of honor, and pledges.

In essence, hostage-taking is the taking of a person as surety for a pledge; that is, the personal freedom of the hostage is limited as long as the specific conditions for which surety is needed - …

Cite this page
Schorkopf, Frank, “Hostage”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 05 March 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_019705>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180915

▲   Back to top   ▲