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Download PDF Guilty But Insane: Mind and Law in Golden Age Detective Fiction

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Many vassals chose Toompea for their residence, since living in their estates in the conquered countryside was dangerous. The Lower Town, therefore, enjoyed a relatively free atmosphere of cosmopolitanism.

Guilty But Insane Mind and Law in Golden Age Detective Fiction

One of the most important privileges of the free town was to create a town council elected from the most influential and richest residents, mostly merchants. The Town Council was a symbol of an independent city. As in other German lands, serfs could flee the feudal properties and gain freedom in the cities outside the feudal system. Hence the saying, town air makes you free:.

Rotger often asked Hinric to tell him about this country named Livonia, which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and which is ruled by no king nor duke, where towns are governed by free merchants and countryside by the knights of the Order and the bishops, but in the villages there live peasants, who do not even speak German and who, after the mass, sometimes go to the forest to worship idols Hargla, The old town of Tallinn is an important part of Estonian cultural heritage.

The sense of national identity is linked with historical and cultural memory. Concurrently, cultural memory determines the events to be recorded and passed on.

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The present article has no pretension to answer this complicated question on a deeper level. Identity and memory are connected. Cultural heritage does not include only self-contained objects from the past but also objects in their symbolic significance. They are part of a narrative that binds objects and community together in a shared system of values and beliefs.

In this sense old Tallinn is certainly a memory object, and not a petrified one, but one that is knit into the living culture and its dynamics. In this context it should be mentioned that as the result of the Great Northern War in , Estonia became part of the Russian Empire.

This constitutes a later period of history, however, and even at that time and in spite of the intensive politics of russification, Estonia remained mentally connected with German cultural space.

The Baltic Germans comprised the social, political, and cultural elite for several centuries. They held citizenship of the Russian Empire until and Estonian citizenship until , until the signing of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the subsequent Nazi-Soviet population transfers. Baltic German intellectuals and estophiles encouraged even the Estonian national awakening in the midth century. They were the landlords and exploiters for centuries.

On the other hand, German culture is the breeding ground of Estonian national awakening and the counterbalance to the politics of russification. Indrek Hargla promotes a third attitude: the understanding of Estonian identity not in terms of one ethnic nation versus or juxtaposed to another, but as a melting pot of numerous components of different cultures and ethnic origins that cohabit happily inside every individual in the same way the Germans, Swedes, Estonians, and others live together unproblematically in 15th-century Tallinn, the vibrant merchant-town in profitable economic relations with both Western-Europe and Novgorod.

Hargla in Treufeldt, himself has said that he chose this period because it was a relatively peaceful one as compared to what was going on in the rest of Europe. It was a time of building, commerce, and cultural development. Since in the generally troubled Middle Ages peace and stability were essential to survival, towns were the places of relative order and security.

Crime, however, does not seem to be the major issue in this fictional closely-knit and basically well-ordered community, as long as it will be well explored and the criminal brought to justice. Although Melchior cuts off the body parts and organs of executed criminals to include them as ingredients for his pharmacy drugs, he does not believe in ghosts or diviners and often brings his more superstitious contemporaries to their senses, letting them see the fraud hiding behind certain mysterious events or beings.

There are no fanatic clergymen or narrow-minded judges to hinder his investigations. Even the most stubborn are ready to admit that if someone is accused of witchcraft, the accusation must be based on solid evidence. And for the town to flourish and for everyone to live a good life here, there could be no abscesses … Melchior was afraid of a town, where a murderer went un-punished […].

August 21, 2009

A town — it is people gathered inside its walls for security, people, who want to live safely, to breathe, to think, to seek their luck, without fear that somebody would take away their breath of life. Apteeker Melchior ja Rataskaevu viirastus , Indrek Hargla. The only place of unpredictability is the castle on Toompea hill, the space of nobility and the rule of the Teutonic Order. Hargla does not build any other oppositions than the one between the nobles and the rest of the population. The nobility has its games of power and dubious ethics that the citizens do not understand.

They prefer to keep their distance.

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When a mysterious murder occurs in the Upper Town, Hargla lets the murderer escape into Down Town, since this is the place where justice can be pursued by logic and common sense. In Apothecary Melchior and the Strangler of Pirita, a Bridgettine monastery is being built on the territories of the Teutonic Order surrounding the city, and the merchants are afraid the Bishop will grant it some privileges inside the town walls.

But Melchior is not worried. He believes that in the world of God there is enough room for both the town and the monastery. Moreover, the monastery does not constitute a closed and mysterious space of its own. Rather, it is depicted as a community of real sisterhood or even a space of medieval feminism. Religious space does not contrast with secular space. Apteeker Melchior ja Tallinna kroonika , Indrek Hargla. The motif of walls that connect and walls that separate is constantly present in these novels. Estonia itself is perceived as a sort of wall since it situated on the edge of Christian lands.

This is why Hargla makes the last of the Templars to come to Estonia. According to a legend, after the destruction of the Order, the remaining Templars were scattered to the farthest corners of the Christianized world. Why not Estonia? The town is surrounded by the city wall, and outside the town there are unknown territories and the sea: a space of trade, but also of danger.

The gallows and the leprosarium are situated outside the walls. In Apothecary Melchior and The Chronicle of Tallinn the leprosarium is also the living place for a monster-looking girl Carstine, born from an incestuous relationship. Hargla has carried out a great deal of research to depict truthfully the functioning of a medieval city with its political factions, its merchants and their links with overseas towns, with artisans, clerics, sailors, builders, jugglers, and the executioner.

It uses gloomy scenery of decay to achieve its effects. It not only evokes the atmosphere of horror and dread, but also portrays the deterioration of this world.


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The decaying, ruined scenery implies that at one time there was a thriving world. At one time the abbey, castle or landscape was something treasured and appreciated. A merchant had to find a balance between self-interest and the interest of the community. The church maintained a certain prejudice against trade in the name of Christian ethics of poverty and the nobles regarded the city-dweller with scorn and no chivalric virtue was expected of him. The nobility cultivated a disdain for merchants as money-hungry and money-saving and prided themselves for spending uncontrollably and for their magnanimity.

By the 14th century merchants held all power in the cities, and it was here that a new ethic of work and property was forged. This is exactly the atmosphere Hargla creates in his crime novels. Since Estonia regained its independence in , its identity discourse has constantly been wavering between a strictly ethnic approach and a broader embracement of its historical multiplicity.

Its protestant past, IT-oriented presence and its current place at the top of the least religious countries in the world contribute to its self-image as a practical, hard-working and basically rational community in mutually beneficial relations with the rest of the world. The only thing that costs is money.

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And besides money, a man himself. These practices of medieval law are certainly amusing to our contemporary reader, but they encourage the reader to reflect upon truth and justice as well as the means of achieving the latter. In the Middle Ages, an investigation was generally started by a complaint of an injured party to a local authority.

The truth could also be established in trials by water or fire, but from the 12th century onward new legal procedures were established that offered reason as an alternative to violence. Again, these were the cities that sought to free themselves from the brutality and incertitude of feudal forms of justice.

The bourgeois classes had their systems of control with mutually-valued and accepted practices including negotiations with the injured party, financial and religious sanctions, and reconciliation administration of justice. The bourgeois classes had their systems of control with mutually-valued and accepted practices including negotiations with the injured party, financial and religious sanctions, and reconciliation Rousseaux, Several studies 4 Albrecht Classen and Connie Scarborough eds.

Such punishments were less about re-educating the wrongdoer as about restoring the lost balance, both on social and individual levels. The judiciary was more concerned with general security than abstract notions of justice. But as the medieval legal system was not a coherent whole lay and religious, royal and seigneurial, local and central , it created a confusion about where and by whom the accused should be tried.

In most cases, however, lay and ecclesiastical law respected each other. That is why the major problem is to determine on whose territory the crime occurred and whether it belong to the competence of laymen or the Church:. Torture is an inseparable part of it. Permissions Icon Permissions. All rights reserved.


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