Krzyże pokutne jako pomniki średniowiecznego prawa
THE PENITENTIAL CROSSES AS THE MONUMENTS OF MEDIEVAL LAWS
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The penitential crosses that may still be encountered in Lower Silesia as the symbols of faith, worship, habits and uses of local population have their equivalents in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, England and France. From historical sources it follows that in the territory of Silesia from about 1301 until ca. 1500 and in some districts even as late as up to 1615 the assassins were forced by the court’s sentence to cover all ex penses connected with the victim’s funeral, furthermore, to supply the church with a definite quantity of wax, to order a funeral mass, in many instances — to undertake a pilgrimage to a place shown by church, to pay the living costs of the victim’s family including those of breeding of his progeny, to cover the costs of beer drunk during the legal suite and to erect a stone chapel or cross. On the settlement of the above duties an assassin was no more called to account, his crime committed into oblivion, the victim’s family resigned of revenge and at a stone cross an agreement was made with an assassin. Depending on local resources of raw materials the Lower Silesian penitential crosses were erected of granite, sandstone or native stones. On some of them were hammered the date, the surname and family name of a victim and even the tools of crime as, for instance, a bow, a sword, a spear or cross- bow. The above described crosses are forming quite an exceptional, also when considered on the all European scale, group of historical monuments in the territory of Lower Silesia.
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