Under the Frankish Empire, the court system was
famous for its time. For one one thing, a consistent court system
When Charlemagne came to power as king of the
Frankish Empire, he agreed that the court system was consistent, but he
believed it was consistently unfair. In the Frankish court system, trial
was by ordeal.
If you were a peasant and you were accused of a
crime, to prove your innocence, you had to hold a red hot metal poker
until your hand was deeply burned. If your burnt hand healed in three
days, which it was unlikely to do, you were found innocent. If it did
not, you were guilty.
If you were a noble, you could prove your innocence
in ordeal by fight. You could hire someone to fight for you. If the
person you hired lived, you were found innocent. If the person you hired
died, you were found guilty, but you had paid your punishment - you had
paid with "your" life, so to speak, or at least the life of
the person you had hired - thus, you were free to go.
Charlemagne did not think much of this system of
justice. He started a new system - trial by panel.
Under Charlemagne's system, each accused person
would be heard by a panel of honorable men, men who had taken an oath to
listen and to judge fairly based on the evidence presented. There was
still corruption, but this system had a much better chance of being fair
than did the old one.
Our modern jury system, trial by jury, slowly
developed from this early start.
more about the great king, Charlemagne
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