What comes to your mind when you hear the word “blackmail”? The word carries a strong connotation of an unlawful extortion regarding the illegal trade of secrets and threats.
This article will explore why it’s called “blackmail”, its historical background, and the legal implications. It is a fascinating look into the dark origins of a term that has become commonplace in today’s modern world. So let’s dive in and figure out why it’s called “blackmail” and its many implications.
Why Is It Called Blackmail?Blackmail is an act of coercion, where an individual or organization threatens to reveal embarrassing or damaging information about an individual or organization to the public, media or authorities, in an attempt to obtain an advantage, money or property from the victim. The term “blackmail” is thought to have originated in the late 18th century, where certain British laws gave “blackmail” the criminal charge of “taxation extortion”.
The History of BlackmailThe practice of blackmail dates back centuries to the Ancient Greeks, who used a form of extortion to gain advantage or property from opponents. By the 1600s, blackmail was an established crime in England and Scotland.
In cases of blackmail, victims were threatened with the exposure of sensitive information, typically involving an individual’s family or private life, in exchange for the payment of money.
Types of BlackmailThere are two main types of blackmail:
- Financial blackmail, also known as pecuniary blackmail, is the most common form of blackmail.
It involves the use of threats of harm or destruction to property or reputation in order to extort money or property from the victim.
- Non-financial blackmail, also known as non-pecuniary blackmail, involves the use of threats to expose embarrassing or shameful facts about the victim in order to compel them to do something against their will.
Reasons Why It Is Called BlackmailThe word “blackmail” has a dark and sinister history.
The term originates from back in the Medieval and Renaissance eras when groups of private soldiers would extort money from landowners and local communities. These soldiers would be hired by those in power to provide general protection from attackers, or to act as a police force. The soldiers, however, would often go beyond their role and extort money from the people for their own benefit.
This process of using intimidation, threats and violence to force people to give up money was known as “blackmail”. The term was derived from the fact that these soldiers would wear black to disguise themselves and because they operated outside the bounds of accepted law.