Anton Runesson

The Lived Body in Court, Sweden 1600-1750

The dissertation project – part of the larger project “The Word made Flesh. The Body in Protestant Cultures, c. 1600-1750” at Stockholm University – aims at understanding the lived body and its function in legal settings in the early modern period. Scrutinizing sources from criminal investigations into infanticide and murder, suicide and suicide murder, as well as bestiality and magic, it follows Daniel Lord Smail's appeal that historians need to take the emotional investment of litigants making use of courts into account. It thereby asks: how did bodily experiences inform people to come before court, and how did these experiences help to establish judicial truth?
The detailed narratives of the body presented before court are often generously explaining the causal connections between senses, emotions and the body from the point of view of accused or witnesses, with concluding evaluation by members of the court whether the exculpating narrative is to be held as truthful.

During my time in Wolfenbüttel, I will primarily focus on the bodily workings of the “bad”, “tainted”, or “tormenting” conscience.