Choosing Death: Suicide and Calvinism in Early Modern Geneva

Truman State University Press

In this case study of the Republic of Geneva, Jeffrey R. Watt convincingly argues the early modern era marked decisive change in the history of suicide. His analysis of criminal proceedings and death records shows that magistrates of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries often imposed penalties against the bodies and estates of those who took their lives. According to beliefs shared by theologian John Calvin, magistrates, and common folk, self-murder was caused by demon possession. Similar views and practices were found among both Protestants and Catholics throughout Reformation Europe. By contrast, in the late eighteenth century many philosophies defended the right to take one's life under certain circumstances; Geneva’s magistrates in effect decriminalized suicide; and even commoners blamed suicide on mental illness or personal reversals, not on satanic influences. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica}
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Truman State University Press
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Published on
Jul 31, 2017
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History / Europe / General
History / Modern / 16th Century
History / Social History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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