"A widespread belief in Denmark and Germany that drinking the blood of the executed cured epilepsy" epitomizes the violent nature of the modern European people portrayed in Julius R. Ruff's Violence in Early Modern Europe 1500-1800. However uncivilized and foreign the practices of these people may seem many similarities can be drawn to today's violence in the United States. The sensationalism of violence, the acts of violence performed, and the handling of the crimes show how little has changed.
Differences in literacy and technology have not changed the human interest in crime and violence nor those feeding them. Illiteracy was prevalent in the Early Modern Europe, however, this did not stop the communication of shocking tales of crime, violence, and execution throughout the period. The unlettered received its information through songs, ballads, and oral reports, while broadsheets, pamphlets, small books, and newspapers supplied the literate with even suggestions of mass marketing.
Today's literacy rates and advances in technologies have not changed our fascination in the current events, fictional stories, television programs, or movies containing fighting, brutality, bloodshed and carnage. Present day newspapers not only inform through the headline articles but even devote a section to recent and local police reports. Shootings, robberies, homicides, and fires riddle our six o'clock news. Cops, Judge Judy, NYPD Blue and even an entire channel, Court TV, devoted to criminal cases, depict all aspects of violence from the occurrence to the judicial process.
Televised violent acts of crime and their criminal preceedings by high profile people and cases such as O. J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, and Scott Peterson have captivated the nation. Similar to the mass of people attending a public execution. The diary of Londoner Samuel Pepys from 1664 accounts his fear of becoming a victim of a random act of violence. Feeling unsafe in his own home he states "and [I] there fell into a most mighty sweat… knowing what money I have in the house and hearing a noise.
" Similar to Mr. Pepy's fears, today's are met with home security systems, private safes, and firearms for protection. With the portrayal of unsafe surroundings it is no surprise that people from both Early Modern Europe and today feel insecure. While Ruff's accounts of the nature of the violence are far more brutal, cruel, and frequent than today's, people's interest and the media delivering them remains the same. The violent acts depicted by Ruff during the Early Modern Europe are not partial to only those times.
The same violent acts occur today be they rapes, murders, sporting events, executions, or riots. In both early modern Europe and today rape is a violent act most regrettable to learn of and even more unfortunate to learn of is the similarities of the "… widespread underreporting of the offense. " Reasons for the crime not being reported remain the same today as they did centuries ago, "because of a sense of shame at their victimization in this most personal of crimes.
" Statistics from the National Victim Center and Crime Victim's Research and Treatment Center show that 683,000 forcible rapes occur every year with only an estimated 36 percent being reported to police. Homicide is another violent act occurring both in early modern Europe and in the United States. However, a sample table from Ruff suggests that "fatal violence was much more common than it is today. " The table shows Alost, Belgium through the years 1480-1504 experienced 60 homicides per 100,000 people while the FBI's crime report suggests 0. 1 homicides per 1,000 people.
A violent crime report also presented by the FBI shows a high since 1970 of 51. 7 in 1979 people victimized by violent crime for every 1,000. Another form of violence during the early modern Europe took place during sporting events in a time of festivals. The violent events such as the neighboring towns in Italy fist fighting over bridges is far from the violence in sports today, however, boxing, and wrestling can be found in both time periods. American football is also considered a violent sport by many as well as the game of hockey, which often stops play to allow the fighting of opposing members.
Horrific executions during the early modern Europe distinguish this time period from today. Being burned alive at the stake, drowned, hanged, dismembered, boiled, and buried alive are all terribly gruesome deaths no longer practiced. However, there are some similarities in today's executions. Just recently three men on death row in Texas had their executions stopped at the last minute. The lethal injections used were declared not fit for even killing animals since it caused pain and suffering and masked it through muscle relaxers.
The convicted also have opportunities to make amends with god before they are executed which was imperative to the religious people of early modern Europe. High officials in both time periods also have the ability to pardon the convicted. Riots are another form of violence that still exists today. Antitax and billeting were common riots in the early modern Europe. Today antiwar riots at Kent State over the Vietnam war, riots on civil rights for African Americans, and the race riots in los angelos after the Rodney King events.