High, middle and low justice

High, middle and low justices are notions dating from Western feudalism to indicate descending degrees of judicial power to administer justice by the maximal punishment the holders could inflict upon their subjects and other dependents.

Low justice regards the level of day-to-day civil actions, including voluntary justice, minor pleas, and petty offences generally settled by fines or light corporal punishment. It was held by many petty authorities, including many lords of the manor, who sat in justice over the serfs, unfree tenants, and freeholders on their land. Middle justice would involve full civil and criminal jurisdiction, except for capital crimes, and notably excluding the right to pass the death penalty, torture and severe corporal punishment, which was reserved to authorities holding high justice, or the ius gladii ("right of the sword").


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