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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 2073 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #165 on: February 04, 2009, 01:18:41 pm »

back the origin of the Fehm-gerichte to the time of Charlemagne, making them to have been either directly instituted by that great prince, or to have gradually grown out of some of his other institutions for the better governing of his states. A fifth places their origin in the latter half of the eleventh century, and regards them as an invention of the Westphalian clergy for forwarding the views of the popes in their attempt to arrive at dominion over all temporal. princes. A sixth ascribes the institution to St. Engelbert, Archbishop of Cologne, to whom the Emperor Frederic II. committed the administration of affairs in Germany during his own absence in Sicily, and who was distinguished for his zeal in the persecution of heretics. He modelled it, the advocates of this opinion say, on that of the Inquisition, which had lately been established. The seventh and eighth theories are undeserving of notice. On the others we shall make a few remarks.

The first writers who mention the Fehm-gerichte are Henry of Hervorden, a Dominican, who wrote against them in the reign of the Emperor Charles IV., about the middle of the fourteenth century; and Æneas Sylvius, the secretary of Frederic III., a century later. These writers are among those who refer the origin of the Fehm-gerichte to Charlemagne, and such was evidently the current opinion of the time--an opinion studiously disseminated by the members of the society, who sought to give it consequence in the eyes of the emperor and people, by associating it with the memory of the illustrious monarch of the West. There is, however, neither external testimony nor internal probability to support that opinion. Eginhart, the secretary and biographer of Charlemagne, and all the other contemporary writers, are silent on the subject; the valuable fragments of the ancient Saxon laws collected in the twelfth century

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