During the Enlightenment, a now little-known Italian marquis, while in his mid-twenties as a member of a small Milanese salon, the Academy of Fists, wrote a book that was destined to change the world. Published anonymously in 1764 as Dei delitti e delle pene, and quickly translated into French and then into English as On Crimes and Punishments, the runaway bestseller argued against torture, capital punishment, and religious intolerance. Written by Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), an economist and recent law graduate of the University of Pavia, On Crimes and Punishments sought clear and egalitarian laws, better public education, and milder punishments. Translated into all of the major European languages, Beccaria?s book led to the end of the Ancien Régime.
In The Celebrated Marquis, award-winning author John Bessler tells the story of the history of economics and of how Beccaria?s ideas shaped the American Declaration of Independence, constitutions and laws around the globe, and the modern world in which we live.
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