Cesare Beccaria

Cesare, Marquis Beccaria
Cesare Beccaria.jpg
Born15 March 1738
Milan
Died20 November 1794 (aged 56)
Milan, Duchy of Milan, Austrian Empire
NationalityItalian
OccupationJurist, philosopher, politician, and lawyer
Spouse(s)Anna Barbò
ChildrenGiulia
Maria
Giovanni Annibale
Margherita

Giulio (by Anna Barbò)

Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria, Marquis of Gualdrasco and Villareggio[1] (Italian: [ˈtʃeːzare bekkaˈriːa]; 15 March 1738 – 28 November 1794) was an Italian criminologist,[2] jurist, philosopher, and politician, who is widely considered as the most talented jurist[3] and one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment. He is well remembered for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), which condemned torture and the death penalty, and was a founding work in the field of penology and the Classical School of criminology. Beccaria is considered the father of modern criminal law and the father of criminal justice.[4][5][6]

According to John Bessler, Beccaria's works had a profound influence on the Founding Fathers of the United States.[7]

Birth and education

Beccaria was born in Milan on 15 March 1738 to the Marchese Gian Beccaria Bonesana, an aristocrat of moderate well-being from the Austrian Habsburg Empire.[8] Beccaria received his early education in the Jesuit college at Parma. Subsequently, he graduated in law from the University of Pavia in 1758. At first he showed a great aptitude for mathematics, but studying Montesquieu (1689–1755) redirected his attention towards economics. In 1762 his first publication, a tract on the disorder of the currency in the Milanese states, included a proposal for its remedy.[9]

In his mid-twenties, Beccaria became close friends with Pietro and Alessandro Verri, two brothers who with a number of other young men from the Milan aristocracy, formed a literary society named "L'Accademia dei pugni" (the Academy of Fists), a playful name which made fun of the stuffy academies that proliferated in Italy and also hinted that relaxed conversations which took place in there sometimes ended in affrays. Much of its discussion focused on reforming the criminal justice system. Through this group Beccaria became acquainted with French and British political philosophers, such as Hobbes, Diderot, Helvétius, Montesquieu, and Hume. He was particularly influenced by Helvétius.[10]

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