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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 2737 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #195 on: February 04, 2009, 01:26:50 pm »

for admission into an inferior Purrah has to undergo a most severe course of probation, in which all the elements are employed to try him. Before he is permitted to enter on this course, such of his relatives as are already members are obliged to pledge themselves for his fitness, and to swear to take his life if ever he should betray the secrets of the society. Having passed through the ordeal, he is admitted into the society and sworn to secrecy and obedience. If he is unmindful of his oath, he becomes the child of death. When he least expects it a warrior in disguise makes his appearance and says, "The great Purrah sends thee death." Every one present departs; no one ventures to make any opposition, and the victim falls.

The subordinate Purrahs punish all crimes committed within their district, and take care that their sentences are duly executed. They also settle disputes and quarrels between the leading families.

It is only on extraordinary occasions that the great Purrah meets. It then decides on the punishment of traitors and those who had resisted its decrees. Frequently too it has to interfere to put an end to wars between the tribes. When it has met on this account it gives information to the belligerents, directing them to abstain from hostilities, and menacing death if a drop more of blood should be spilt. It then inquires into the causes of the war, and condemns the tribe which is found to have been the aggressor to a four days' plundering. The warriors to whom the execution of this sentence is committed must, however, be selected from a neutral district. They arm and disguise themselves, put horrible-looking vizards on their faces, and with pitch-torches in their hands set out by night from the place of assembly. Making no delay, they reach the devoted district before the break of day, and in parties of

p. 384

from forty to sixty men, they fall unexpectedly on the devoted tribe, and, with fearful cries, making known the sentence of the great Purrah, proceed to put it into execution. The booty is then divided one half is given to the injured tribe, the other falls to the great Purrah, who bestow one half of their share on the warriors who executed their sentence.

Even a single family, if its power should appear to be increasing so fast as to put the society in fear for its independence, is condemned to a plundering by the Purrah. It was thus, though under more specious pretexts, that the Athenian democracy sought to reduce the power of their great citizens by condemning. them to build ships, give theatrical exhibitions, and otherwise spend their fortunes.

Nothing can exceed the dread which the Purrah inspires. The people speak of it with terror and awe, and look upon the members of it as enchanters who are in compact with the devil. The Purrah itself is solicitous to diffuse this notion as much as possible, esteeming it a good mean for increasing its power and influence. The number of its members is estimated at upwards of 6000, who recognise each other by certain words and signs. Its laws and secrets are, notwithstanding the great number of the members, most religiously concealed from the knowledge of the uninitiated.


377:* Berck, p. 231, from Spittler's History of Hanover.

377:† Vimricht, i.e. Fehm-law, the German word, of which the author presently gives a childish etymology.

380:* Friederika Brun. Episoden aus Reisen durch das Südliche Deutschland, &c,

382:* Golberry, Voyage en Afrique, t. i. p,114, and seq.

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