View Full Version : Tribal Justice System of Ancient Europe?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009, 04:23 PM
As far as I know, the ancient tribes of Europe lacked a justice system unless someone wronged the chieftain or the tribe as a whole, but on a person to person basis people were required to handle matters on their own. For example if someone broke into your house and stole something of yours it would be your responsibility to handle the situation through whatever means necessary, and if you wronged the other person in the process then they or someone else could deal justice as they see fit. Is this correct or was there a different form of justice system that I'm not aware of or was misinformed on?

Monday, September 21st, 2009, 11:35 PM
What I know from the relatively late ages in which there were records there were certain cultural values, but mainly "might makes right". A person could challenge another person to a duel and the winner is right. For most major transgression there would be a council of elders or "judges" which would hear the case and rule for an outcome. You also had the shild or whatever its called where if you killed somebody you would pay a certain amount to that family so that they wouldn't kill you then your family kill one of them etc. leading to a never ending feud. Similar with stealing etc. usually you would pay the apropriate fine. If you couldn't pay you became a slave. If you already were a slave then you could be killed or beaten whatever the person you wronged or your owner wished.

As far as I know there wasn't much crime back then other than a tribe or clan raiding another one which wasn't considered crime. And with crime within a tribe almost unheard of. Such scum would be dealt with by the family obviously in whatever way they wished. No outside law enforcement would come in. I would say anyone that would steal from or do wrong to their brothers, sisters, fellow tribe members would probably get a severe beat down
I guess in an extreme case say if you killed someone in your own tribe you would probably be thrown out. You would have to flee and never show your face again (or be killed). Sometimes this alone was a death sentence because where are you going to go?

I would say its very similar to how a modern gang would handle justice.

I know in the very old days it was might makes right but this wasn't a very pleasant life. It evolved into a system in which outside judges would rule on a case and everybody would honor their decision, though there are records of people who refused to do so which often lead to a duel. This basically evolved into our modern system of trial by jury and professional judges.

Though this was only for major conflicts, mainly disputes between two families or clans. Everything within a group would be handled by the group. I'm not sure exactly when law enforcement first came about. I know there were sheriffs and such back in the middle ages but I don't think there were police that were on call for domestic disputes. I'd say thats a pretty modern invention coming with modern cities, cars, telephones etc.