Cruentation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A body in its coffin starts to bleed in the presence of the murderer in an illustration of the laws of Hamburg in 1497

Cruentation (Latin: "ius cruentationis" or "Ius feretri sine sandapilae") was one of the medieval methods of finding proof against a suspected murderer. The common belief was that the body of the victim would spontaneously bleed in the presence of the murderer.

Cruentation was part of the Germanic Laws,[1] and it was used in Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Scotland[2] and the North-American colonies. In Germany it was used as a method to find proof of guilt until the middle of the 18th century.[3] Cruentation was mentioned in the Malleus Maleficarum. Antonius Blancus was probably the first to raise the question of the reliability of all cruentations.[4]

In cases where it was difficult for the jurors to determine whether someone accused of murder was guilty or innocent, the case could be solved by means of a trial by ordeal. The accused was brought before the corpse of the murder victim and was made to put his or her hands on it. If the wounds of the corpse then began to bleed, or if other unusual visual signs appeared, that was regarded as God's verdict (judicium Dei) announcing that the accused was guilty.

After the Lutheran Reformation of 1536 the practice of cruentation was unwarranted from a legal point of view in Denmark and Norway and during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries leading theologians of the Danish Church condemned it several times. Nevertheless, cruentation continued to be used well into the eighteenth century, and its outcome continued to be accepted as evidence by law courts – indeed, in a few cases, the ordeal was overseen or even organized by clergymen. Apparently the practice was so popular that it continued to remain judicially sanctioned for some time even when that meant circumventing the official teaching of the Protestant state church.[5]

Michael Alberti (1682–1757), professor of medicine and natural sciences at Berlin, published in 1736 his "Systema jurisprudentiae medicae", a mixture of backwardness and progress. Alberti was still in favour of torture and cruentation, and he believed in magic and demons. On the other hand, he considered sorcery a mental disease and had a critical attitude toward other medical problems.

References[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE: "The ritual of Cruentation was originally a custom of Germanic tribes, often invoked It was based on the by the German courts. firm belief that a cadaver would start to Ius [sic] bleed when touched by the murderer. cruentationis was applied in the courts in Germany until about 1750" on [1]
  2. ^ Dr. Jaroslav Nemec, "Highlights in Medicolegal relations"
  3. ^ Barend A. J. Cohen; "Forensische geneeskunde: raakvlakken tussen geneeskunst gezondheidszorg en recht"
  4. ^ "Tractatus de indiciis homicidii"
  5. ^ Morten Fink-Jensen,"The bleeding corpse. Trial by ordeal in early modern Denmark and Norway" on [2]

External links[edit]

  • Bron: "Bahr- oder Blutprobe Quelle: [3]
  • R.P. Brittain, Cruentation in legal medicine and literature, 1965