Ashford v Thornton: The Last Challenge to Trial by Battle

Many personal disputes in the past have been settled by one-to-one combat. When a crime was committed, or a complainant accused a person of a crime and there were no witnesses or a confession, the court allowed the two parties to legally settle their difference with a duel. The winner of the fight was proclaimed to be right. This archaic law remained in use throughout the European Middle Ages, gradually falling out of favor in the course of the 16th century. The medieval method of trial by battle was almost forgotten, until Abraham Thornton, who was accused of rape and murder, tried to invoke it more than two hundreds years after the last judicial battle took place.

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A trial by combat taking place in Augsburg in 1409, between Marshal Wilhelm von Dornsberg and Theodor Haschenacker.


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