To be put to your law meant to be tried, normally by being required to take a formal oath that you were innocent of wrongdoing (as in "wager of law," commonly used in actions of debt), then usually followed by ordeal, compurgation
, or inquest.
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
Some have argued that the lex terrae should be read more narrowly to refer merely to a judgment of one's peers by the "time-honoured" tests: battle, compurgation
, or ordeal, McKechnie, supra note 249, at 379, or to simply whatever procedures positive law required, see Walker v.
It is unclear to me why this should be the case, since the difficulties that gave rise to Slade's Case concerned the evidentiary problems not of written but of parole agreements once compurgation
(calling God to witness) was felt to be an inadequate form of proof.
17) The most common opinion is that "trial by jury was introduced into England by William the Conqueror, who added it to the three basic trial methods already practiced in England and on the Continent since Charlemagne: trial by compurgation
, trial by battle, and trial by ordeal.
performed trials by compurgation
, in which the court added to the
13) Anglo-Saxon England had two trial methods: compurgation
, where 12 juratores (those sworn) evaluated a case using their knowledge of the disputants and the alleged offenses; and ordeal, such as ordeal by hot water/stone, by consecrated bread, or by cold water.
Hutson's aside about compurgation
being "medieval folklaw," however, seems odd.
Clergymen were not only seen as sacerdotal figures who were assumed to be more trustworthy--hence they could prove their innocence by compurgation
rather than trial by ordeal or combat--but were also among the only literate people in a largely illiterate society.
Divine Intervention: 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.