compurgation


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compurgation

(kŏm'pərgā`shən), in medieval law, a complete defense. A defendant could establish his innocence or nonliability by taking an oath and by getting a required number of persons to swear they believed his oath. Compurgation, also called wager of law, was found in early Germanic law and in English ecclesiastical law until the 17th cent. In common law it was substantially abolished as a defense in felonies by the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164). Compurgation was still permitted in civil actions for debt, however, and vestiges of it survived until its final abolition in 1833. It is doubtful whether compurgation ever existed in America.
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The rationale for switching to trial by jury was to give the community a voice in determination of guilt or innocence, as the community (or God) were supposed to have in the ancient methods of compurgation and ordeal.
(24) "By a series of statutory enactments, known as assizes, Henry transformed the jury into a genuine instrument of justice" (25) while banning trial by compurgation for most felonies and requiring most felony prosecutions to proceed by ordeal.
Hutson's aside about compurgation being "medieval folklaw," however, seems odd.
These adjudicatory measures came in the form of compurgation, ordeals, and battles.
The response from mainstream society to quotidian and frequent interaction between members of the three religions consisted in a manipulation of this concept to protect their women from Muslim and Jewish men and avoid the compurgation that, in fact, seems to characterize the popular orders.
(28) Almost all criminal cases were decided by one of the three other recognized medieval trial forms: battle, (29) compurgation, (30) or ordeal.
(98) An early juridical treatment of the well-known link between honour and duelling is afforded by Bologna University's Giovanni da Legnano who argued (1360) that duels are fought for one or more of three reasons--hatred, an accusation's compurgation, or glory (propter gloriam).
Kichynman claimed he had already cleared himself of this charge through compurgation. His one witness, the vicar of Leeds, deposed that both Elizabeth and a Margaret Lovecock had denied saying anything defamatory about Robert; they had insisted that Robert himself had told them about the affair.
(12) This is the legal procedure known as compurgation, whereby the accused could call on a group of relatives or neighbours, usually twelve in number, to swear oaths in support of his good character: see David M.
Swedish legal procedure preserved traces of such archaic elements as compurgation, despite the appellate court's skepticism (34-35).
The merchants' opponent could contest its validity in several ways: by compurgation, that is, by swearing a counter oath that was backed by more or higher ranked oath helpers than the merchant could supply (Ebel 1974, p.
(30) The proverbial kin loyalty of this period was both manifested in and maintained by feuding, bequeathing, marriage negotiations, and compurgation, as well as the elusive rights and obligations implicit in the mysterious abstraction folcriht.