Judicial power in medieval Europe

Judicial power in medieval Europe

Medieval Europe lived by written laws. At the dawn of the Middle Ages in the territory of the former Roman Empire, the court was carried out according to the collections of laws – barbaric “truths”. The “truths” clearly reflected the legal inequality of various social groups. Romanesque population adhered to the norms of Roman Law, under the influence of which the young royal legislation was created. In the VIII-IX centuries. Frankish kings issued their own laws – the capitulators. By the XII century. European legislation has evolved to such an extent that individual, disparate laws have been consolidated into two large arches – the Civil Law Code and the Code of Church Law. In Christian Europe church laws interfered in worldly life and were more

influential than civil ones.

The court in medieval Europe gradually became class. This meant that for every social class there was a court: for the nobility – one’s own, for the clergy – one’s own, for the townspeople – its own. Only the peasants did not have their own court, but they were subject to the judicial power of their masters or the judges appointed by them.

The supreme judicial power in the state belonged to the monarch, but not everyone could sue the king himself. How did the king judge? If the case was confusing, he turned to the faith for divine justice – he appointed the so-called “God’s judgment”. For the knights it was a duel. It was believed that God will not allow the defeat to be defeated innocent. On the duel it was possible to put the hired fighter instead of himself.

From the collection of customary law “Saxon Zertsalo” about the duel

Everyone can refuse to fight with the one who has the worst pedigree… The judge must give two accomplices to each of those who will fight… They must speak before the judge in full armor and swear: one that the accusation with which he opposed another, – the truth, and God help him; another that he is not guilty, and God help him. To the sun, they should be placed in the same

position when they meet for the first time. If the one who was accused is defeated, he is punished; If he overcomes, he is free from fines and penalties.

Sometimes, according to the verdict of the court, it was determined who was to blame for using the hordes – tests with boiling water, fire or a red-hot iron. Against such cruel tortures the church acted – they, after all, were forbidden.

XII century. From the French legend “Tristan and Isolde”

Isolde now let herself
notify us of everything, in
detail and true.
It is waiting for us from us.
Let his hand take the
red-hot iron
from the executioner. And I swear She, when her hand,
Tender and thinner than the stalk,
Will not be burned by fire,
We will become doubly dear.
We all honor her holy Truthful, honest and simple.

Royal power paid enough attention to the organization of courts, because ship penalties significantly supplemented the state treasury, and the very existence of the courts created the appearance of law and order in the state. Kings appointed their judges. But in the districts, the judiciary belonged to local lords, who could sentence their subjects even to execution.

So, the state and judicial power in medieval Europe was imperfect. It poorly ensured social justice, and hence, peace and mutual understanding in society.

Themis – justice, in ancient Greek mythology – the goddess of justice.

Law – the rights and obligations of citizens, legalized by the state.

The capitulations are the laws and orders of the Frankish kings.


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Judicial power in medieval Europe