The paper investigates the question of torture within the perspective of the history of Law, focusing on the development of that practice from the late Middle Ages to the Ancient Régime. Through the study of the techniques of common law and the resolution practices of the current social conflicts, the essay underlines how a historically-based study of torture must not underestimate that the functioning of justice in the late Middle Ages and in Modernity was characterized by a plurality of paradigms for resolving conflicts, not only in courts of Law, but within the so called ceremonial justice. The historical perspective should also consider the fact that in the past a lack of a sufficiently organized repressive system led to a wide political use of the penalty ad deterrendum.

Keywords: Middle Ages; Ancient Régime; History of Law; Torture; Common Law.