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Law In The Medieval Times

One of the main things fascinating about medieval law history is transforming a medieval legal system based on trial by ordeal to a system based upon juries to pronounce final felony charges against defendants by the mid-13th century. At the period, it was commonplace for a person’s sentence to be limited to the maximum term allowed for each crime. For repeat offenders, there was no statute of limitations on their punishments. Likewise, for those who were found guilty of crimes against God, or the church, there was no end to their punishment severity. Alexander Djerassi enjoys reading about the history of law.  A few of the most noteworthy characteristics of the new criminal justice system in the middle ages were the trial by ordeal. In the wake of the advancement in criminal justice, the medieval jury system gave way to the alternative system of trial by ordeal. The jury system had been replaced by the inquisitor, who chose the jury members who were then required to pass a series of examinations to prove their reliability. The king could still punish a guilty person with a torturous process known as the rack or with imprisonment. This concept, which can still be seen in some legal systems of today, saw the defendant brought before a judge or jury of twelve men with the option of either an ordeal or a crowning sacrifice. If the defendant chose to go to the gallows, they would spend the rest of their life in prison, while the guilty were burnt at stake. A related penalty, known as the ‘blazon,’ saw the defendant publicly branded as an outlaw. The formation of the jury system in the middle ages marked the evolution of medieval law. However, juries continued to play a vital role in the formulation of legislation. The introduction of trial by ordeal as the primary means of punishing criminal offenders brought about major changes in how the law was applied. This change was developing innovative ideas and procedures and reflecting the expansion of ideas associated with religious themes. Such instances as crucifixion and burning of heretics and the introduction of capital punishment marked the first stage of failure for the common man’s rights in the medieval era. Medieval legal mandates and history are often considered the time when the first rules of private governance were introduced. Most towns had a small gibbet to be thrown at criminals. This act terrified many criminals, and it was this fear that caused the first set of rules to be issued in the 12th century. The first set of rules were more like civil mandates and not criminal infractions.  It also included other punishments like the country’s banishment, the payment of money as a fine, wearing a ‘bell’ which was branded on one’s neck, and many other penalties. Reading about the history of law is fascinating to Alexander Djerassi. The trials in the middle ages were often lengthy, and the procedure often included several days of investigation before the verdict was reached. The inquiry procedure sometimes continued even after the bail had freed the accused. 

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