Tuesday, July 8, 2014

... on Ordeals and When Abolished

The Science of Lying

The speaker is among other things explaining what ordeals were, and ends the outburst in words which quoting I begin my comment:

3:29 "Medieval Judicial system, how I love you!"

Apart from the irony which is a lie as obvious as "Michael Jackson is my aunt", you were lying about how it worked.

Or rather when it worked. It was actually during the Middle Ages that Trial by Ordeal was abolished because Catholic Church fought it.

True, while it lasted, it was also partly the Church that administered it.

Documentation of my previous claim:

Canon 19 forbids the blessing of water and hot iron for judicial tests or ordeals.

From Catholic Encyclopedia on Fourth Lateran Council (1215)

Here is a further quote on origins of this trial system (previous to 1215 and Fourth Lateran Council, of course):

Ordeals were known and practised by various peoples of antiquity, and are still to be met with today among uncivilized tribes. The Code of Hammurabi prescribes their use for the ancient Babylonians. The person accused of a certain crime was subjected to the test of cold water, which consisted in the person's plunging into a river; if the river bore him away his guilt was established; if he remained quiet and uninjured in the water, his innocence was believed to have been proved (Winkler, "Die Gesetze Hammurabis", Leipzig, 1902, 10). Among the Jews existed the test of the Water of Jealousy, conducted by the priests, in which the woman accused of adultery must consume the draught in their presence, after having offered certain sacrifices, and the effects of which established the woman's guilt or innocence (Numbers 5:12-31). Among the Indians are to be found likewise various kinds of ordeals, particularly that of the red-hot iron. This test of holding a red-hot iron was also known among the Greeks. The Romans, however, with their highly developed system of dispensing justice, did not employ this means of obtaining proof. Ordeals found their chief development among the Germanic peoples, in Germany itself as well as in those kingdoms which came into existence, after the migration of the nations, in the old Roman Provinces of Gaul, Italy, and Britain. They were an essential part of the judicial system of the Germanic races in pagan times, were preserved and developed after the conversion of these peoples to Christianity, became widespread and were in constant use.

The Christian missionaries did not in general combat this practice. They opposed only the duel, and endeavoured to minimize the barbarity attendant upon the practice of ordeals. By prayer and religious ceremonies, by the hearing of holy Mass and the reception of holy communion before the ordeal, the missionaries sought to give to it a distinctly religious character.

From Catholic Encyclopedia on Ordeals

Previous to that, here is an example:

"The struggle waged against simony in the eleventh century led to violent scenes in several Italian cities. At Florence, Bishop Peter Mezzobarbo, known also as Peter of Pavia, (not to be confused with Pietro da Pavia who lived a century later) was publicly accused of simoniacal acquisition of the episcopal dignity. As he strenuously denied the charge and had numerous and prominent supporters, the controversy caused intense agitation at Florence. The Vallombrosian monks were his chief accusers, and upon the insistence of the people for proof, the judgment of God, or trial by fire, was resorted to. The Abbot St. John Gualbert designated for the test Peter Aldobrandini, who successfully underwent the ordeal (1068), hence called "Igneus", or Fire-tried. This triumph of the monks was followed by confession on the part of the bishop."

Wikipedia : Peter Igneus

Note that this trial by ordeal was in 1068, well before 1215.

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