Marquis Giugni of Camporsevoli
The year was 1705, the fief of Camporsevoli was firmly owned by the Marquis Giugni, when a strange legal question arose between the latter and the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Giovanni Andrea Morganzi, a vassal of Camporsevoli, killed his brother Morganzio with an arquebus shot. The trial that followed ended with Morganzi’s conviction, pronounced in absentia. As usual, the vicar of Camporsevoli sent the sentence for the Grand Duke’s ratification, while Morganzi, a fugitive, was arrested near Perugia and taken to the jails of Siena. The extradition of the condemned to Camporsevoli was granted, but never carried out, because the Medical Board of Siena entered into the complicated affair with a specific request for the Grand Duke: to grant them Morganzi’s body after execution, in order to conduct specific anatomical observations.
For better anatomical analysis, moreover, it was expressly requested that they postpone the execution, scheduled for August, until December, and use the method of strangulation and not hanging.
Given the marquis’ firm opposition, the members of the Medical College produced a note, signed by Morganzi, in which he appealed against the vicar of Camporsevoli’s ruling, contesting the jus sanguinis to Giugni as a “defect” of investiture. In consideration of the reasons given, the execution envisaged for Camporsevoli in August was temporarily suspended.
We have an important testimony of the jurisdictional and diplomatic conflict that arose in the letter written on 24 September 1709 by the Marquis Giugni to a Sienese official:
“Therefore, recognising myself very much offended in a matter of such importance to my jurisdiction, I have firmly established that my vassals are to be punished in the future with the sole punishment of jail, even for crimes more atrocious than fratricide, in order to avoid worsening expenses, trouble, and very bitter disgust.
Since the mind of this Officer is clearly inclined to second the wisdom of other supreme ministers, conspiring to support the delay, and not the fulfilment of the sentence, this could be proposed. That since I have no aversion to sacrificing the life of my vassal for the public benefit of this University, I should therefore mention the exemption offered to me of every expense for the executioner, and of the families who accompany him; more and more firmly, the tenor of the sentence that he be first hanged and then handed over for anatomical considerations”.
The offence he took at the lack of respect for his juridical authority, having to provide for keeping the murderer in prison in Siena until completion of the sentence and also having to bear the executioner’s expenses, led the Marquis Giugni to an innovative resolution: abolition of the death penalty in his fiefdom, even for those guilty of murder.
For these reasons, seventy-seven years before the Leopoldina Law of 1786, the death penalty was abolished in the marquisate of Camporsevoli.
In the autumn of 1709, the Marquis Giugni and the Medical College reached a compromise: delaying the sentence, death of Morganzi by hanging as foreseen by the court of Camporsevoli, exoneration from all necessary expenses.
On 14 December 1709 Morganzi was hanged in Siena.