In the 1810 French penal code, the prescribed sentence for some crimes is "carcan" (stocks), which is described as being put in stocks at a public place with information about one's name, profession and crime for one hour.

But carcan is prescribed as the sole punishment for some crimes; and the code also seems to consider it more severe than imprisonment, since it prescribes that children up to the age of sixteen who would be sentenced to carcan are instead to be kept for one to five years in a maison du correction. This is in the same article that lessens other sentences for children (such as the death penalty to ten to twenty years of imprisonment).

I am confused because to me, the one hour of public display seems much lesser sentence than years of imprisonment. Did I understand the carcan punishment correctly, or did it maybe involve imprisonment as well automatically (but if yes, where is that written)?

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately you don't name the articles your referring to.

A quick look list the following articals where carcan is used:

  • §§ 8(1),22,24,28,36,56,67

ARTICLE 8. (Page 91 of PDF) 1811 edition
The infamous [Entehrende, dishonour] penalties are,

  • 1 ° The stock [carcan, Der Pranger] ;
  • 2 ° Banishment;
  • 3 ° Civic degradation.


  • §7 afflicting and infamous penalties (Death, forced labor)
  • §9 penalties in correctional matters (imprisonment, fines)

But carcan is prescribed as the sole punishment for some crimes;

§ 8 (1) defines it a as separate type as compared to the types that would be punish with death or with a form of correction (imprisonment or fine).

Anyone who has been sentenced to one of the sentences of hard labor for life, hard labor in time, or imprisonment, before undergoing his sentence, will be tied to the stock in the public square: he will remain exposed to the eyes of the people. for an hour; above his head will be placed a sign bearing, in large and legible characters, his names, his profession, his domicile, his sentence and the cause of his conviction.

Whoever, having been convicted of a crime, will have committed a second crime involving civic degradation, will be condemned to the penalty of the stock;

Note: For §§ 22 and 56, the stock is used as a auxiliary punishment

When the accused is less than sixteen years old, if it is decided that he acted indiscriminately , he will be acquitted; but he will be, according to the circumstances, returned to his parents, or taken to a house of correction, to be brought up and detained there for such number of years as the judgment will determine, and which however cannot exceed the time when he will have completed its twentieth year.

If it is decided that he acted with discernment , the penalties will be pronounced as follows:
If he has incurred the penalty of the stock or banishment, he will be condemned to be locked up, from one to five years, in a house of correction.

Commentary (Page 109 of PDF) 1811 edition to §§ 66,67:

Der Grund, daſs der junge Verbrecher, ungeachtet er mit Beurtheilsvermögen handelte , doch milder bestraft wird, gehet aus der Erwägung des Gesetzgebers hervor, daſs er den Umfang seiner Handlung nicht vollkommen übersehen konnte. Sowohl in dieser als auch in anderer Hinsicht war es weise, weder eine Leibes - noch entehrende Strafe gegen ihn zu verfügen.

The reason why the young criminal, in spite of the fact that he acted with discretion, is punished more leniently, arises from the consideration of the legislature, that he could not completely overlook the extent of his act. In this as well as in other respects it was wise not to impose any corporal or dishonorable punishment against him.

and the code also seems to consider it [for children up to the age of sixteen] more severe than imprisonment,

§66 offers this possibility only as one of many milder options depending on the situation. The commentary at that time didn't considered it milder than imprisonment.


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