Judicial Processes in the Military Orders: The Use of Imprisonment and Chaining
Chaining and imprisonment were used for a variety of purposes in the Middle Ages. In the secular world detention was frequently employed in the earlier part of the period as a coercive measure for the payment of a ransom or debt, and in the thirteenth century it often had a custodial function. Imprisonment as a form of punishment was more common in the ecclesiastical sphere, although in time the practice of church tribunals was increasingly imitated by lay courts.1 The intention of this paper is to examine the purposes for which military orders, which were religious institutions but composed mainly of laymen, employed chaining and imprisonment up to the early fourteenth century, and the extent to which they use made of them. It will be concerned only with the detention of brothers and of those who were employed in a paid or unpaid capacity in their houses; vassals and captives will not be discussed.