Though the evolution of prisons and the prison system in medieval Europe is a well-developed field in the history of law, little attention has been paid to prisons and incarceration on the frontiers of Latin Christendom. The present study makes use of archival and literary sources in order to examine how prisons functioned in Venice's most important colony, the island of Crete. As there has been no previous study of prisons and incarceration in medieval Greece, the article's first aim is to establish some basic facts about the prisons of Crete, such as their locations, their organization and their system of administration. More importantly, however, the study investigates the role that incarceration played in the legal system of the Venetian colony and attempts to set this role within the context of the juridical developments of the Late Middle Ages. Of particular interest is the question of how closely the legal system of the Venetian colony followed the judicial practice of the metropolis and whether it was influenced by the pre-existing legal institutions of Byzantium. Finally, the study also examines how the jurisprudence of the colonial regime dealt with offenders of different ethnic background and legal status.
- Stephanos Sachlikes
- Venetian Crete