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30 Crime & Just. 83 (2003)
Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime

handle is hein.journals/cjrr30 and id is 91 raw text is: Manuel Eisner

Long-Term Historical
Trends in Violent Crime
Research on the history of crime from the thirteenth century until
the end of the twentieth has burgeoned and has greatly increased
understanding of historical trends in crime and crime control. Serious
interpersonal violence decreased remarkably in Europe between the
mid-sixteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Different long-term
trajectories in the decline of homicide can be distinguished between
various European regions. Age and sex patterns in serious violent
offending, however, have changed very little over several centuries.
The long-term decline in homicide rates seems to go along with a
disproportionate decline in elite homicide and a drop in male-to-male
conflicts in public space. A range of theoretical explanations for the long-
term decline have been offered, including the effects of the civilizing
process, strengthening state powers, the Protestant Reformation, and
modern individualism, but most theorizing has been post hoc.
Symonet Spinelli, Agnes his mistress and Geoffrey Bereman were to-
gether in Geoffrey's house when a quarrel broke out among them; Sy-
monet left the house and returned later the same day with Richard
Russel his Servant to the house of Godfrey le Gorger, where he found
Geoffrey; a quarrel arose and Richard and Symonet killed Geoffrey
(Weinbaum 1976, p. 219). This is an entry in the plea roll of the eyre
court held in London in 1278. The eyre was a panel of royal justices
empowered to judge all felonies and required to inquire into all homi-
cides that had occurred since the last eyre (Given 1977). The story is
Manuel Eisner is reader in sociological criminology at the Institute of Criminology,
University of Cambridge, England. The author thanks Michael Tonry, Kevin Reitz, and
the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.
© 2003 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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