Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Beccaria, Caesar Bonesana, Marquis of, was born at Milan in 1735 or 1738. He devoted himself to the study of social and judicial reforms, and in 1764 published a little treatise on Crimes and Punishments, which was translated into every European language, and produced a striking effect on the ablest minds of the day. In conjunction with other young Italians he got up a periodical, Il Cafe, in the style of the Spectator, for the discussion of kindred topics. He was appointed to a chair of political economy at Milan in 1768, and later on was made a member of the Supreme Economic Council. He wrote nothing during the last twenty-five years of his life, but his lectures were printed posthumously. His cardinal doctrine asserted the injustice of any punishment that exceeds what is necessary for the preservation of the public safety. He pointed out the demoralising effects of sanguinary and cruel penalties, of judicial torture, of the use of spies, and of rewards for evidence. He advocated open trial by jury, and the restriction of the power of the judge. Though his bias towards utilitarianism and the theory of a social contract blinded him to the highest conception of moral duty, his teachings did much to bring about the beneficent changes witnessed by the eighteenth century. He died in 1794.