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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1744 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #180 on: February 04, 2009, 01:22:22 pm »

a piece of imperial money with each. This was esteemed good and valid service, and if the accused did not appear the court proceeded to act upon it.

Notwithstanding the privileges which the members of the society enjoyed, and the precautions which were employed to ensure their safety, and moreover the deadly vengeance likely to be taken on any one who should aggrieve them, we are not to suppose the service of a summons to appear before a Fehm-court to have been absolutely free from danger. The tyrannic and self-willed noble, when in his own strong castle, and surrounded by his dependents, might not scruple to inflict summary chastisement on the audacious men who presumed to summon him to answer for his crimes before a tribunal; the magistrates of a town also might indignantly spurn at the citation to appear before a Fehm-court, and treat its messengers as offenders. To provide against these cases it was determined that it should be considered good service when the summons was affixed by night to the gate of a town or castle, to the door of the house of the accused, or to the nearest alms-house. The schöppen employed were then to desire the watchman, or some person who was going by, to inform the accused of the summons being there, and they were to take away with them a chip cut from the gate or door, as a proof of the service for the court.

If the accused was resolved to obey the summons, he had only to repair on the appointed day to the place where the court was to be held, the summons being his protection. Those who would persuade us that the Fehm-courts were held by night in secret places say that the mode appointed for the accused to meet the court was for him to repair three-quarters of an hour before midnight to the next cross-roads, where a schöppe was always waiting for him, who bound his eyes and led him to where the court was

p. 363

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