Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(969 words)

The reprieve is an act of state by which a person who is punishable under the law is wholly or partly discharged from the legal consequences of their crime for reasons of higher justice [4. 763]. Unlike the medieval balance between mercy and law, with judgment according to mercy, in which a court could strike down or alter a verdict on the basis of considerations of equity, the early modern reprieve had its roots in the growing independent authority of the state. While judging a criminal was the responsibility of the judiciary, the reprieve became a special right of the ruler, who…

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Oestmann, Peter, “Reprieve”, 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 28 November 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_017443>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20210601

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