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Individual Criminal Responsibility

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes that the principle of individual criminal responsibility had characterised legislation already several centuries before the Reformation. It explains that after the Reformation, the fight against sin and crime became two sides of the same coin. The provincial laws retain elements of an older legal system which has its roots in pre-Christian times. The focus on individual guilt was probably derived from canon law. Historians of the Early Modern Period connect the principle of individual criminal responsibility to the development of the modern state. According to this view, in the middle Ages extramarital sexuality was resolved when the womans male relatives and her lover reached an agreement concerning the compensation to be paid by the latter. According to Early Medieval Norwegian law, a man who had sexual relations with any other woman but his own wife risked being killed, and the surviving regulations are clearly defined.

Keywords: Early Medieval Norwegian law; individual criminal responsibility



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