Torture by Fire (1769)
Although Maria Theresa of Austria (r. 1740-80) extended her reform program to include matters of criminal procedure, she did not follow Prussian ruler Frederick II in abolishing judicial torture (1740, 1754). Rather, the standards laid out in her criminal code, Constitutio Criminalis Theresiana (1769), continued to rely on earlier concepts of punitive justice – a point made clear by the following engraving, which presents Habsburg judicial procedures for “interrogation under torture” in meticulous detail. In the Austrian Empire, torture was finally abolished in 1777, due in part to the efforts of Joseph von Sonnenfels (1733-1817), jurist and rector magnificus at the University of Vienna. Copperplate engraving from Constitutio Criminalis Theresiana by an unknown artist, 1769.
© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Kunstbibliothek, SMB
Original: Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin