police streets greece

Police Forces That Kept Order In Ancient Streets

C0nny Waters – Icestech.info – The first known police force was established in 400 BC in Athens, Greece.

According to accounts from speech writer in Ancient Greece, Andocides, a Greek statesman and one of the ten Attic orators, Aeschines, the first police force in ancient Greece, consisted of publicly-owned Scythian slaves, the so-called Scythian Archers.

police streets greece

Historical evidence shows that in ancient Greece, sporadically, police authorities began to form and excel, mainly in Athens, where publicly enslaved people were used as a police force.

Three hundred of them were employed by magistrates for crowd control, maintaining law and order in the city’s streets, and maintaining order during political meetings.

This police force also assisted with dealing with criminals, handling prisoners, and making arrests.
Equipped with bows and arrows, the enslaved people kept order on the streets of Athens. They had the power to arrest and monitor prisoners. However, investigating and detecting crimes was still reserved for Athens’s free citizens.

Following the concept of the police force, Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) created the so-called Praetorian Guard, an organization to protect the emperor and be his bodyguards. They enforced his laws and maintained public order, which was of such a high level that it remained in effect until the decline of the great Roman empire.

During the Middle Ages, the European legal system was in the hands of local lords and nobles responsible for maintaining order in their districts.
Appointed by the king, these district noblemen were both executive and judiciary in their respective fields.

Police Forces That Kept Order In Ancient Streets

Left: In the Roman cities, small forces of gendarmes, often recruited from slaves, acted under the direction of civilian magistrates. But elsewhere it was the army itself that kept the peace; and military units were stationed at such strategic points as river-crossings and road-centres. Right: The ‘hermandades’ initially began to form in Andalusia,Spain in the 12th century.

Each noble usually appointed a constable official whose duties included keeping the peace and arresting and guarding criminals.
For serious crimes, however, the prisoner had the right to raise their case in the Royal Courts.

The ‘hermandades’ (in Spanish, ‘brotherhood’) initially began to form in Andalusia in the 12th century. They were one of many voluntary and peacekeeping association of armed individuals, formed in Spain especially in Castile, during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries to maintain public order, resist the nobles’ depredations, and, later, exercise general police functions.

The Santas Hermandades of medieval Spain were formed to protect pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.

The Santas Hermandades of medieval Spain were formed to protect pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (Pilgrim on the Way of St. James). Image credit: Roland zh – PublicDomain

A modern European Police appeared for the first time in 1667 when King Louis XIV of France established a police force consisting of 44 inspectors under the official name – the “Lieutenant General of Police.”
Already two years later, the system was applied to all major cities in France. In 1829, the French officers were the first to receive uniforms!

In 1663 the city of London began paying watchmen (generally older men who could not find other work) to guard the streets at night. Until the end of the 18th century, the guards and a small group of constables represented the only form of policing in the city.

Updated on October 20, 2022

Written by Conny Waters – Icestech.info Staff Writer

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Hunter V. Policing Athens


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