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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1861 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #195 on: February 04, 2009, 01:26:14 pm »

and he was obliged to bring six compurgators to swear along with him. Should there be a third charge, his only course was to clear himself by the ordeal. He was forthwith to wash his hand in water, and to take in it a piece of glowing-hot iron, which the beadles and executioners had always in readiness on the left of the tribunal, and to carry it a distance of nine feet. The Fehm-count, according to ancient custom, chose whom he would to find the verdict. The council could dissolve the court whenever they pleased. Such causes as had not come on, or were put off on account of sickness, or any other just impediment, were, on such occasions, noted and reserved for another session.

It is evident, however, that this municipal court, of which the chief object was the punishment of theft, the grand offence of the middle ages, though called a Fehm-court, was widely different from those of the same name in Westphalia.

The Tribunal of the Knowing (Gericht der Wissenden), in Tyrol, has also been erroneously supposed to be the same with the Westphalian courts. The mode of procedure in this was for the accuser to lay his finger on the head of the accused, and swear that he knew him to be an infamous person, while six reputable people, laying their fingers on the arm of the accuser, swore that they knew him to have sworn truly and honestly. This was considered sufficient evidence against any person, and the court proceeded to judgment on it.

The ideal Fehm-court beneath the castle of Baden must not be passed over without notice, as it seems to be the model after which our popular novelist described his Fehm-tribunal in Switzerland! A female writer in Germany * informs us that beneath the


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