In its beginnings, there was an attempt to develop valid and relevant theories of crime causation as well as to find answers how to control or prevent crime. Early theorists have only partially explored the issues concerning criminality. Crime on the theoretical level was an explored trough a personal perception and sometimes using empirical knowledge about crime.
Throughout history, two distinctive questions were the precursors for historical development of criminology. First question was: How to prevent and deal with crime? With  a development of organized society in early Babylonia, laws like Codex Hammurabi had regulated behaviors and proscribed appropriate punishments for such deviant behaviors. Codex Hammurabi has made differences between social classes of perpetrators in the appliance of punishments.

At that time, there were four types of punishments:
1. Exile
2. Death penalty
3. Compensation
4. Slavery

In medieval Europe at 13th century, the development of legal sciences has brought significant progress in phrasing legal norms. The development of criminal law began it diverse development around 1530s when some rulers of the European states began to issue own criminal codes ( Constitutio Criminalis Carolina (1532), Constitutio Criminalis Bambargensis (1509) and other criminal codes). The goal of these criminal codes was to reduce cases when local criminal codes haven't regulated some undesirable behaviors. The European Criminal  Law was mostly particular, while the universal codes of rulers have been the subsidiary and secondary source for application of law. Criminal law in general terms were at that time unified source where the norms have regulated description of crimes, determined sanctions for crimes and the Criminal Court procedures. Division of the criminal law in general terms began in 17th century. The word "constitutio" derives from Latin, and it means a rulers decision, proclamation or edict. The word "constitutio" today signifies the decision of executive branch, which by its legal power is equal to the laws, but limited on the time period of one year.
European Criminal Law has continued its development trough 17th and 18th century. The most known criminal codes of that time were: Constitution Criminalis Leopoldina, Constitutio Criminalis Josephina, Constitutio Criminalis Theresiana and Code de Napoleon which applied until 1992 in France.
Second question was: What is the cause of crime? The cause of crime is mostly explained religiously as an act of evil influence. With a development of philosophy, philosophers like Plato and Aristotle have seen possible explanations of crime in socio-economic status. The religious explanations of crime causality have remained the prevailing explanation of crime until 1700s. The emergence of classical criminology as a first school of modern criminology brought first serious attempts to philosophically and logically explain causes of crime. However, the philosophical explanations of crime causality were too general. At that time, the foundations have been placed for sociology to create specific theories. Positivist criminology has focused its research interest on the criminal in an attempt to measure criminality in some way, and that changed the views on the criminality in a way that no longer was relevant only to create theoretical models, but also to process data of scientific measurements. Although the lack of understanding of experimental variables and causality in the experiment, brought characters like Lombroso to insist on their thesis. It will take a lot of time for scientists to find flaws of their thesis and conclusions, but with development of experimental methodology chances to make mistakes  have been reduced significantly.