The long decline in inter-personal violence in the UK

statsman

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I just came across this essay and wanted to share it, pretty much without comment, other than to say that I found it fascinating.

https://aeon.co/essays/why-has-england-lost-its-medieval-taste-for-violence

Here are a couple of quotes to whet the appetite, but read the whole thing:

Oxford in the 14th century was a pretty dangerous place, even without this type of incident. A study of coroners’ rolls from the 1340s suggests a homicide rate of 120 per 100,000 of the population – compared with around 1 per 100,000 of the population today for England, Wales and Scotland, meaning you were 100 times more likely to be murdered in medieval Oxford than you are in modern Britain.
Public ridicule of duelling was aided by incidents such as when the duellists’ seconds in a late-18th-century duel loaded the protagonists’ pistols with pieces of potato rather than bullets.
In an incident in Surrey in the 1840s, villagers assembled to subject a wife-beater to community shaming through ‘rough music’, a cacophony of whistles, horns, cowbells, rattles and beaten pans, which was halted to give a spokesman opportunity to declare that it was ‘a great shame and disgrace’ for such a man to live among them.
 


Kevin Parlon

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I just came across this essay and wanted to share it, pretty much without comment, other than to say that I found it fascinating.

https://aeon.co/essays/why-has-england-lost-its-medieval-taste-for-violence

Here are a couple of quotes to whet the appetite, but read the whole thing:
Isn't this a trend that has accelerated even more rapidly since the 70's? Humans, generally have never lived in safer societies. And that even goes for places like Mexico, Afghanistan and Brazil.
 

statsman

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Isn't this a trend that has accelerated even more rapidly since the 70's? Humans, generally have never lived in safer societies. And that even goes for places like Mexico, Afghanistan and Brazil.
Despite the doom and gloom merchants.
 

General Urko

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Remember one thing these figures usually relate to reported and recorded crime rather than actual crime levels!
Re Britain, stabbings and acid attacks are certainly not disapearing!
 

cricket

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Maybe a little off-course here, but this thread reminds me of a relative who died about 30 years ago. He was fond of his jar and good company. Shortly before he died, he said pubs had gone down a lot in more recent years. When asked how, he said you'd hardly ever see a punch-up in a pub in those days, compared with years earlier where he said they were a regular feature of weekend drinking in particular.
 

silverharp

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I didn't know there was a role for coroners back in the middle ages. I doubt if violence has dropped by 99% though. Get stabbed in the 1300's and you probably died, today an ambulance comes and fixes you up. Also life expectancy was much lower, the average lifespan back then was 30's to 40's compared to 70's today
 

Nitrogen

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A very interesting topic indeed.

Stephen Pinker has a book on this; (A long rambling read taking about 900 pages to say more or less what this essay says)

Thanks for posting
 

parentheses

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There's a theory about that. i.e. that people were forcibly "domesticated" by the government and judicial authorities. In other words, males who showed an excessive tendency towards violence or other anti social vices were culled from the population particularly by execution.

So it was the more "pacific" part of the population which survived to reproduce.
 

General Urko

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Maybe a little off-course here, but this thread reminds me of a relative who died about 30 years ago. He was fond of his jar and good company. Shortly before he died, he said pubs had gone down a lot in more recent years. When asked how, he said you'd hardly ever see a punch-up in a pub in those days, compared with years earlier where he said they were a regular feature of weekend drinking in particular.
It reminds me of the sad plight of Glasgow, once as many seem to have been, the second city of the empire! In the 50s and 60s and 70s, the hardmen used to go around with flick knives in their arse pockets, today's equivalent demographic, have bottles of fake tan there instead!
 

statsman

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A very interesting topic indeed.

Stephen Pinker has a book on this; (A long rambling read taking about 900 pages to say more or less what this essay says)

Thanks for posting
Thanks. I've seen that Pinker book (The Better Angels of Our Nature) but couldn't bring myself to read it
 

General Urko

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The rise of football hooliganism was blamed on the ladz having no wars to fight and no national service to put smacht on them!
 

Volatire

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Oxford in the 14th century was a pretty dangerous place, even without this type of incident. A study of coroners’ rolls from the 1340s suggests a homicide rate of 120 per 100,000 of the population – compared with around 1 per 100,000 of the population today for England, Wales and Scotland, meaning you were 100 times more likely to be murdered in medieval Oxford than you are in modern Britain.
This is just the Pinker thesis from Better Angels, which the OP seems not to have read (ignorant clown).

I have many doubts about Pinker.

For one thing, the appearance of anti-biotics and improvements in trauma medicine have had an enormous impact on murder rates. In medieval times, even a minor wound could prove fatal after a couple of weeks. This certainly needs to be corrected for before you compare murder rates.
 

Filibuster

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It's quite interesting actually that we tend to perceive things as far worse than they are. There's also a lot of evidence that societies are actually far more 'moral' in the sense of respecting human rights, welfare, health and general dignity that they have ever been. We're even much more conscious of animal welfare, animal rights, the environment and so on.

If you think about society even during Victorian times here or in Britain, dire poverty to the point of starvation or near starvation was socially acceptable in a wealthy country, very dangerous jobs were acceptable, workers had very few rights, the government was extremely authoritarian and thought little of things like the death penalty, society was extremely inflexible and dogmatic, there were endless wars over territorial disputes and imperialism and many people got killed, women had very poor rights, gay people had no rights at all, children were practically owned property, racism, xenophobia, sectarianism etc was all totally accepted as normal, indentured service was still acceptable, prisoners were treated incredibly badly, the mentally ill were abysmally treated ...

Then on non-human issues : animals were treated quite nastily and the environment was a dumping ground for the industrial revolution - badly polluted air, waterways etc

We've come a very long way and it's a far more pleasant society to live in.
 

DavidCaldwell

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This is just the Pinker thesis from Better Angels, which the OP seems not to have read (ignorant clown).

I have many doubts about Pinker.

For one thing, the appearance of anti-biotics and improvements in trauma medicine have had an enormous impact on murder rates. In medieval times, even a minor wound could prove fatal after a couple of weeks. This certainly needs to be corrected for before you compare murder rates.
If I remember correctly, Pinker addresses this issue in his usual manner - detailed analysis and careful argument backed up by evidence.

A more substantive complaint about Pinker is that, in all the 900 pages, he does not examine the possibility that the decline in violence is as least partially the result of a dominant ideology that exalts non-violence - Christianity and the principle of "turn the other cheek".
 

Half Nelson

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Despite the doom and gloom merchants.
If you ignore the real number of human beings killed then it all looks rosy.

If not, the UK was never so violent.
 

Erudite Caveman

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A very interesting topic indeed.

Stephen Pinker has a book on this; (A long rambling read taking about 900 pages to say more or less what this essay says)

Thanks for posting
I started it. Then, after getting what his central point was, figured that the remaining 800 pages were really unnecessary. Someday, if I end up serving life in prison for a violent homicide and I have time on my hands, I might finish it. But Pinker would say that's unlikely.
 


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