What is trial by ordeal in Law

  • This refers to an ancient practice wherein the guilt or innocence of people accused of crimes was decided by forcing them to undergo painful and dangerous ordeals.
  • The accused was declared to be either innocent or guilty based on whether he or she survived the ordeal without dying or being severely hurt.
  • It was believed that the innocent undergoing the ordeal would be saved by god.
  • Some social scientists have argued that trial by ordeal actually served a useful purpose in a society where most people believed in god; that is, when the ordeals were simply staged to trick the guilty into abstaining from them, thus proving their guilt.


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