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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, 01:18:51 pm »

make not the slightest allusion to these courts; and, in fine, their spirit and mode of procedure are utterly at variance with the Carlovingian institutions. As to the hypothesis which makes Archbishop Engelbert the author of the Fehm-gerichte, it is entirely unsupported by external evidence, and has nothing in its favour but the coincidence, in point of time, of Engelbert's administration with the first account which we have of this jurisdiction, and the similarity which it bore in the secrecy of its proceedings to that of the Holy Inquisition--a resemblance easy to be accounted for, without any necessity for having recourse to the supposition of the one being borrowed from the other. We can therefore only say with certainty that, in the middle of the thirteenth century, the Fehm-gerichte were existing and in operation in the country which we have described as the Westphalia of the middle ages. To this we may add that this jurisdiction extended over the whole of that country, and was originally confined to it, all the courts in other parts of Germany, which bore a resemblance to the Westphalian Fehm-gerichte, being of a different character and nature *.

It remains, before proceeding to a description et these tribunals, to give some account of the origin of their name. And here again we find ourselves involved in as much difficulty and uncertainty as when inquiring into the origin of the society itself.

Almost every word in the German and cognate languages, which bears the slightest resemblance to the word Fehm †, has been given by some writer or other as



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