/kom'peuhr gay"sheuhn/, n.
an early common-law method of trial in which the defendant is acquitted on the sworn endorsement of a specified number of friends or neighbors.
[1650-60; < ML compurgation- (s. of compurgatio), equiv. to com- COM- + purgat(us) (ptp. of purgare to PURGE) + -ion- -ION]

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also called  Wager Of Law,  

      in early English law, method of settling issues of fact by appeal to a type of character witness. Compurgation was practiced until the 16th century in criminal matters and into the 19th century in civil matters.

      The essence of the procedure lay in oath making. The party responsible for proving a fact had to produce a number of witnesses (usually 12) who would swear that he was telling the truth; they did not testify about the fact itself and, indeed, might have no personal knowledge concerning it. The value of a man's oath might vary with his status; sometimes it was necessary for a defendant to meet a charge by assembling oaths of a prescribed monetary value. Because oath making often had religious implications for those who served as oath helpers and because there was also a possibility of legal sanctions, individuals might refuse to give oaths for persons with bad reputations. One reason for the long survival of the practice was that compurgations were often considered better evidence than account books in cases of debt.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Compurgation — Com pur*ga tion, n. [L. compurgatio, fr. compurgare to purify wholly; com + purgare to make pure. See Purge, v. t.] 1. (Law) The act or practice of justifying or confirming a man s veracity by the oath of others; called also {wager of law}. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Compurgation — Compurgation, also called wager of law, is a defence used primarily in medieval law. A defendant could establish his innocence or nonliability by taking an oath and by getting a required number of persons, typically twelve, to swear they believed …   Wikipedia

  • compurgation — I noun absolution, acquittal, acquittance, alibi, benefit of doubt, clearance, defeat of the prosecution, defense, dismissal, exculpation, excuse, exoneration, favorable verdict to the defendant, innocence, just cause, justification, legal… …   Law dictionary

  • compurgation — [käm΄pər gā′shən] n. [LL compurgatio, a purifying < L compurgatus, pp. of compurgare, to purge, purify < com , intens. + purgare, to PURGE] the former practice of clearing an accused person by the oaths of others testifying to that person s …   English World dictionary

  • compurgation — noun Etymology: Late Latin compurgation , compurgatio, from Latin compurgare to clear completely, from com + purgare to purge Date: circa 1658 the clearing of an accused person by oaths of others who swear to the veracity or innocence of the… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Compurgation — At the heart of AS law and custom was the oath which was considered sacred. Compurgation involved the accused person swearing his innocence; at the same time he had to produce a number of other people willing also to swear to the accused s… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • compurgation — n. method of trial in which a defendant is acquitted if a specific number of friends and family swear upon the his/her innocence …   English contemporary dictionary

  • compurgation — [ˌkɒmpə: geɪʃ(ə)n] noun Law, historical acquittal from a charge or accusation obtained by statements of innocence given by witnesses under oath. Origin C17: from med. L. compurgatio(n ), from L. compurgare, from com (expressing intensive force) + …   English new terms dictionary

  • Compurgation — ♦ The process of establishing innocence, or failing to, in an ecclesiastical court, whereby six or usually a dozen men swear to the truth of the accused s assertion of innocence. (Heath, Peter. Church and Realm, 1272 1461, 361) …   Medieval glossary

  • compurgation — com·pur·ga·tion …   English syllables

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