||First references in the literature to trial
by ordeal. Specifically, there are references to men
"being adjudged by the cauldron." The practice seems
to have been of Frankish origin. Trial by cauldron
is used in the decades that follow in cases involves
theft, perjury, contempt of court, adultery, and various
||Lombard law makes reference to slaves
undergoing trial by cauldron.
||A dispute over ownership of a monastery is
settled using the ordeal of the cross. In this
ordeal, the winner of the dispute is person who can keep
his arms outstretched in the form of a cross for the
longest period of time.
||The use of trial by ordeal spreads during
the reign of Charlemagne. The variety of ordeals
multiplies. For the next four hundred years, trials by
ordeal will be frequently used throughout much of Europe.
||Earliest reference to the trial by ordeal
that requires the accused to walk barefoot over hot
|818 or 819
||Lewis the Pious bans the use of the ordeal
of the cross.
||The trial of Queen Teutberga. Accused
of various sexual offenses by her husband, King Lothar,
Tetuberga calls one of her retainers to undergo the trial
by cauldron on her behalf.
||The Cadaver Synod (or "Dead Pope" trial) at
Basilica San Giovanni Laterno. The deceased Pope
Formosus is found guilty of a series of crimes. The
corpse is stripped of its vestments and the three fingers
the Pope had used for blessings are cut off. Later
in 897 the prosecuting pope, Pope Stephen VI, is murdered.
||Queen Uta of Germany is acquitted of
adultery after 82 knight compurgators affirm her chastity.
||Beginning of the Icelandic Commonwealth
||In Iceland, after men loyal to a chieftain
named Flosi burn Njal's farmhouse, killing many members of
Njal's family, Njal's nephew Kari Solmundarson and other
kinsmen take the murderers to court. The trial that
follows is full of twists and turns and ends in a bloody
massacre. The story of the trial--most likely a mix
of truth and fiction--is told in the most famous of the
Icelandic sagas, The Saga of Burnt Njal.
||If later stories are to be believed (which
they probably shouldn't be), Queen Emma of Normandy (the
mother of Edward the Confessor) is found innocent of
adultery with the Bishop of Winchester after walking over
hot ploughshares without injury.
||Trials by ordeal become commonly used in
trials for heresy.
||Pope Innocent III approves of the practice
of allowing judges, on their own motion, to make inquiries
in criminal cases. The practice, when used in cases
involving heretics especially, will become known at The
||Pope Innocent III issues a decree
prohibiting priests from participating in trials by
||Pope Gregory IX persuades Emperor Frederick
II of Germany to burn heretics after they are identified
and convicted by Church courts.
||Jacques Le Gris allegedly
rapes the wife of Jean de Carrouges. Margeurite
tells her husband about the attack when he returns home
several days later.
|July 9, 1386
||Le Gris and Carrouges present themselves at
the Palais de Justice in Paris. Carrouges accuses Le
Gris of raping his wife; Le Gris announces his intent to
sue for defamation. They each throw down a gauntlet.
||The French Parlement announces that is
unable to reach a verdict in the Carrouges-Le Gris
case. The two men will fight a duel to death.
||Carrouges and Le Gris
engage in trial by combat ("the last duel") at a jousting
arena at an abbey north of Paris. Carrouges drives a
dagger through Le Gris's neck, killing him. King
Charles VI presents Carrouges with a prize of 1,000
||Czech priest and philosopher Han Hus is
tried and executed in Prague for heresy.
|May 30, 1431
||Joan of Arc is burned at the stake after
being declared a relapsed heretic. Specifically,
Joan of Arc was determined to have donned the clothing of
a man, which she said she did in order to protect her
virginity. Joan, in her ordinary trial, faced a
twelve-count indictment. She previously had escaped
execution by signing an abjuration document.
||Serial murderer and sadist extraordinaire
(Gilles was charged with torturing and killing 140
children) Gilles de Rais is convicted and executed in