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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1695 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #210 on: February 04, 2009, 01:29:41 pm »

p. 398

CHAPTER VII.
Cause of the degeneracy of the Fehm-courts--Attempts at reformation--Causes of their high reputation--Case of the Duke of Würtemberg--Of Kerstian Kerkerink--Causes of the decline of the Fehm-jurisdiction.

THE chief cause of the degeneracy of the Fehm-courts was the admission of improper persons into the society. Originally, as we have seen, no man was admitted to become a schöppe without producing satisfactory evidence as to the correctness of his character; but now, in the case of either count or schöppe, a sufficient sum of money availed to supersede inquiry, and the consequence was that men of the most disgraceful characters frequently presided at the tribunals and wielded the formidable powers of the society. A writer in the reign of Sigismund says, "that those who had gotten authority to hang men were hardly deserving enough to keep pigs; that they were themselves well worthy of the gallows if one cast a glance over their course of life; that they left not unobserved the mote in their brother's eye, but overlooked the beam in their own, &c." And it required no small courage in the writer thus to express himself; for, according to his own testimony, people then hardly ventured even to speak of the Secret Tribunals, so great was the awe in which they were held.

The consequence was that justice was not to be had at any tribunal which was presided over by corrupt judges, as they selected assessors, and even bystanders,

p. 399

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