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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 2213 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #180 on: February 04, 2009, 01:21:35 pm »

in particular, during the middle ages, was such as almost to exceed our conception. Might it not then be argued that we ought to regard as a benefit, rather than as an evil, any institution which set some bounds to injustice and violence, by infusing into the bosom of the evil-doer a salutary fear of the consequences? When a man committed a crime he knew that there was a tribunal to judge it from which his power, however great it might be, would not avail to protect him; he knew not who were the initiated, or at what moment he might fall into their hands; his very brother might be the person who had denounced him; his intimate associates might be those who would seize and execute him. So strongly was the necessity of such a power felt in general, that several cities, such as Nuremberg, Cologne, Strasburg, and others, applied for and obtained permission from the emperors, to proceed to pass sentence of death on evil-doers even unheard, when the evidence of common fame against them was satisfactory to the majority of the town -council. Several counts also obtained similar privileges, so that there were, as we may see, Fehm courts in other places besides Westphalia, but they were far inferior to those in power, not having a numerous body of schöppen at their devotion.

It is finally to be observed that it was only when the crimes were of great magnitude, and the voice of fame loud and constant, that the inquisitorial process could be properly adopted. In cases of a minor nature the accused had a right to be heard in his own behalf. Here then the inquisitorial process had its limit: if report was not sufficiently strong and overpowering, and the matter was still dubious, the offender was to be proceeded against accusatorially. If he was one of the initiated, such was his undoubted right and privilege in all cases.


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Footnotes
347:* Stuhlherr is tribunal-lord, or, literally, lord of the seat (of judgment); stuhl (Anglice, stool) being a seat, or chair.

348:* This word, which cannot be adequately translated, is the low-Latin Scabini, the French Echevins. We shall take the liberty of using it throughout. The schöppen were called frei-(free) schöppen, as the count was called frei-graf, the court frei-stuhl, on account of the jurisdiction of the tribunals being confined to freemen.

351:* Frohnbote is interpreted a Holy Messenger, or a Servant of God.

351:† When a person was admitted into the society he paid, besides the fee to the count already mentioned, to each schöppe p. 352 who was assisting there, and to each frohnbote, four livres Tournois.

352:* The natives of Prussia were still heathens at that time.

357:* In German Verfehmt. We have ventured to coin the word in the text. The English for answers to the German ver; vergessen is forget; verforen is forlorn.



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