Adama Żydowskiego uwagi o właściwości sądów duchownych i świeckich w sprawach o czary
Adam Żydowski’s Remarks on the Competence of Lay and Ecclesiastical Courts in Witchcraft Cases
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Witchcraft cases in Poland (before partitions) have been examined by historians since olden times. Among the issues discussed in this matter there was the Act of the Polish Sejm of 1543, according to which witchcraft cases should be in the competence of ecclesiastical courts. Researchers have been interpreting the meaning of this Act in a very diﬀerent way. According to one group, the Act excluded the competence of lay courts in witchcraft cases totally. Another group claimed that the lay court could examine a case if there was evidence of damage caused by a witch. In practice these cases were examined by the lay courts (especially town courts). It has been pointed out recently that the 1543 Act was only supposed to remain in force for one year, so there was no legal ground to undermine the competence of lay courts in witchcraft cases. It seems that one cannot agree with such a simple solution. Research on practice of the old courts and the works of the 17th century lawyer Adam Żydowski, presents a viewpoint contrary to this. Żydowski, among other issues, discusses the competence of lay and ecclesiastical courts in witchcraft cases and illustrates their respective abilities. The author himself – according to his concept of research – does not present clear opinion. Notwithstanding, his work reveals that the 1543 Act was included in 17th century treatises as still being in power. Probably the clause which limited the act to only one year had been forgotten.
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