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LEGAL ANTIQUITIES

The "legal antiquities" collection includes the subject of penal systems, executioners’ swords and axes and breaking wheels can be found herein, in addition to scold’s bridles, stocks and a baker’s ducking stool. The museum also has various instruments of torture, which were used to coerce confessions.

Up until a few years ago the bulk of the collection was on display in Schloss Scharnstein in the context of the Museum für historische Kriminologie [The Museum for Historic Criminology]. Its origins are as old as the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum. The most important objects were acquired by the art and art history department in the years 1864 to 1870 from Rannariedl, Falkenstein and Wartenburg castles, as well as from the municipalities of Linz and St. Florian. In the year 1885, the collection was rounded out by the Futteral (A brass case with a velvet cover) with wooden judges staffs. It was donated by the last Bannrichter [criminal court judge] in the upper Danube valley, Dr Josephus Pflügl. All of the objects gradually acquired later were of secondary importance – with the exception of the Marchtrenk cradle and the executioner’s cart from Neufelden.

The current collection encompasses approx. 500 objects, in the field of jurisdiction as well as judicial execution. Of major importance are the city magistrate’s swords, judge’s staffs and “Freyungen” (wooden arms with a sword or flags representing the market rights) in the collection, which in addition to being representative are also of a legally symbolic nature. The objects for punishment were used for lesser and more serious offences. The focuses are on instruments of torture as a means of adducing evidence, devices for public shaming and humiliation and objects for capital and corporal punishment.
A few objects of the collection are on display in the Schlossmuseum Linz’s permanent exhibition.

Between 2004 and 2011 the entire holdings of the collection were scientifically analysed and published in the framework of the project "Schande, Folter, Hinrichtung. Ein Projekt zur Aufarbeitung der oberösterreichischen Rechtsgeschichte". [“Shame, Torture, Execution. A Project for Reappraising the History of Law in Upper Austria.”]

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