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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1017 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #225 on: February 04, 2009, 01:31:00 pm »

interfere in favour of Kerkerink. But this had been foreseen and provided against; officers were set to watch all the approaches from the town till all was over, and when the people arrived they found nothing but the lifeless body of Kerkerink, which was placed in a coffin and buried in a neighbouring churchyard.

The bishop and chapter of Münster expressed great indignation at this irregular proceeding and encroachment on their rights, and it served to augment the general aversion to the Fehm-courts.

Our readers will at once perceive how much the proceedings in this case, which occurred in the year 1580, differed from those of former times. Then the accused was formally summoned, and he was allowed to have an advocate; here he was seized without knowing for what, and was hardly granted even the formality of a trial. Then the people who came, even accidentally, into the vicinity of a Fehm-court, would cross themselves and hasten away from the place, happy to escape with their lives: now they rush without apprehension to the spot where it was sitting, and the members of it fly at their approach. Finally, in severity as well as justice, the advantage was on the side of the old courts. The criminal suffered by the halter; we hear of no father confessor being present to console his last moments, and his body, instead of being deposited in consecrated earth, was left to be torn by the wild beasts and ravenous birds. The times were evidently altered!

The Fehm-tribunals were never formally abolished; but the excellent civil institutions of the Emperors Maximilian and Charles V., the consequent decrease of the turbulent and anarchic spirit, the introduction of the Roman law, the spread of the Protestant religion, and many other events of those times, conspired to give men an aversion for what now appeared to be a barbarous jurisdiction and only suited

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #226 on: February 04, 2009, 01:31:11 pm »

to such times as it was hoped and believed never could return. Some of the courts were abolished; exemptions and privileges against them were multiplied; they were prohibited all summary proceedings; their power gradually sank into insignificance; and, though up to the present century a shadow of them remained in some parts of Westphalia, they have long been only a subject of antiquarian curiosity as one of the most striking phenomena of the middle ages. They were only suited to a particular state of society: while that existed they were a benefit to the world; when it was gone they remained at variance with the state which succeeded, became pernicious, were hated and despised, lost all their

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #227 on: February 04, 2009, 01:31:33 pm »



Seal of the Secret Tribunals
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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #228 on: February 04, 2009, 01:31:43 pm »

p. 407

influence and reputation, shared the fate of every thing human, whose character is instability and decay, and have left only their memorial behind them.

_________________________________

It is an important advance in civilization, and a great social gain, to have got rid, for all public purposes, of Secret Societies--both of their existence and of their use; for, that, like most of the other obsolete forms into which the arrangements of society have at one time or other resolved themselves, some of these mysterious and exclusive institutions, whether for preserving knowledge or dispensing justice, served, each in its day, purposes of the highest utility, which apparently could not have been accomplished by any other existing or available contrivance, has been sufficiently shown by the expositions that have been given, in the preceding pages, of the mechanism and working of certain of the most remarkable of their number. But it has been made at least equally evident that the evils attendant upon their operation, and inherent in their nature, were also very great, and that, considered even as the suitable remedies for a most disordered condition of human affairs, they were at best only not quite so bad as the disease. They were institutions for preserving knowledge, not by promoting, but by preventing that diffusion of it which, after all, both gives to it its chief value, and, in a natural state of things, most effectually ensures its purification, as well as its increase; and for executing justice, by trampling under foot the rights alike of the wrong-doer and of his victim. Mankind may be said to have stepped out of night into day, in having thrown off the burden and bondage of this form of the social system, and having attained to the power of pursuing knowledge in the spirit of knowledge, and justice in the spirit of justice. We have now escaped from that state of confusion

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #229 on: February 04, 2009, 01:31:57 pm »

and conflict in which one man's gain was necessarily another man's loss, and are fairly on our way towards that opposite state in which, in everything, as far as the constitution of this world will permit, the gain of one shall be the gain of all, This latter, to whatever degree it may be actually attainable, is the proper hope and goal of all human civilization.

 

 

 

 

THE END.

 

 

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