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Rosamaria Alibrandi

Il «saggio sistema del signor Beccaria»

The jurist from Palermo, Tommaso Natale di Monterosato wrote his Riflessioni Politiche in 1759 while in Naples: much earlier, he had recommended, that the wise system of Mr. Beccaria on crime and punishment be published. Through this remark he left to posterity an anecdote destined to be repeated over the centuries by Sicilian historians. While Tommaso Natale and Cesare Beccaria were united in condemning criminal law procedure of the time, their views diverged considerably regarding punishment; right from their ideas concerning proportionality and applicability of a judgment. According to Natale, punishment had to be based on social class. Like Beccaria, he seems to be against torture as an inquisitive instrument, but approves of it as a punishment. He supported political and civil education addressing the reform of the judicial system and criminal codes. This issue was common to the two theories; but Natale remains within the natural law doctrine that still imbues Sicilian juridical culture. His strategy for penal reform, is firmly rooted in Roman law, with the perfection of its legal constructs; thus he remains immune to the impact of the bourgeoisie and the changes brought about by this emerging social class. However, both these two aristocrats paid scant regard to the common people, who remain very much in the background. The ‘enlightened’, repositories of shared knowledge among the chosen few were still alienated from the idea that the law can evolve spontaneously and come from the grassroots.