Beccaria, Cesare, Marchese di

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Beccaria, Cesare, Marchese di


Born Mar. 15, 1738, in Milan; died Nov. 28, 1794. Italian enlightener, lawyer, and publicist.

Beccaria studied in a Jesuit college and received the degree of doctor of laws from the University of Pavia. He was influenced by the ideas of the French Enlightenment, which he applied to criminal law. He wrote the well-known work On Crime and Punishment (1764), which, for the first time, presented a critical analysis of the entire system of contemporary criminal legislation and its practical application. Of great significance in the development of bourgeois criminal law were Beccaria’s ideas on the necessity of making the punishment commensurate with the gravity of the crime, his struggle for the principle of social equality in the field of criminal law, and so on. Beccaria decisively opposed torture and other methods of “obtaining proof” characteristic of feudal legal procedure. Referring to means of preventing crime, he suggested that crimes would become milder with the refinement of morals and manners and the elevation of culture. His works played an important role in the formation of bourgeois democratic principles of criminal law in the European states of the 18th and 19th centuries and also exercised great influence on the doctrine of the so-called classical school of criminal law.


Berkov, P. N. “Kniga Chezare Bekkarii ‘O prestupleniiakh i nakazaniiakh’ ν Rossii.” In the collection Rossiia i Italiia. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.