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SANCTION (Lat. sanctia, from sancire,...

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 129 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SANCTION (Lat. sanctia, from sancire, to decree or ordain), in jurisprudence, the means provided for the enforcement of a lava According to T. E. Holland (Elements of Jurisprudence, Christian sanctuaries until toward the end of the 4th century, but the growing recognition of the office of bishop as intercessor helped much to develop it. By 392 it had been abused to such an extent that Theodosius the Great was obliged to limit its application, refusing it to the publici debitores. Further evidence of its progress is given by the provision in 397 forbidding the reception of refugee Jews pretending conversion in order to escape the payment of debts or just punishment. In 398, according to contemporary historians, the right of sanctuary was completely abolished, though the law as we have it is not so sweeping. But next year the right was finally and definitely recognized, and in 419 the privilege was extended in the western empire to fifty paces from the church door. In 431, by an edict of Theodosius and Valentinian it was extended to include the church court-yard and whatever stood therein, in order to provide some other place than the church for the fugitives to eat and sleep. They were to leave all arms outside, and if they refused to give them up they could be seized in the church. Capital punishment was to be meted out to all who violated the right of sanctuary. Justinian's code repeats the regulation of sanctuary by Leo I. in 466, but Justinian himself in a Novel of the year 535 limited the privilege to those not guilty of the grosser crimes. In the new Germanic kingdoms, while violent molestation of the right of sanctuary was forbidden, the fugitive was given up after an oath had been taken not to put him to death (Lex. Rom. Burgund. tit. 2, § 5; Lex. Visigoth vi. tit. 5, c. 16). This legislation was copied by the church at the council of Orleans in 511; the penalty of penance was added, and the whole decree backed by the threat of excommunication. Thus it passed into Gratian's Decretum. It also formed the basis of legislation by the Frankish king Clotaire (511-588), who, however, assigned no penalty for its violation. Historians like Gregory of Tours have many tales to tell showing how frequently it was violated. The Carolingians denied the right of sanctuary to criminals already condemned to death. The earliest extant mention of the right of sanctuary in England is contained in the code of laws issued by the Anglo-Saxon king £Ethelberht in A.D. 600. By these he who infringed the church's privilege was to pay twice the fine attaching to an ordinary breach of the peace. At Beverley and Hexham 1 m. in every direction was sacred territory. The boundaries of the church frith were marked in most cases by stone crosses erected on the highroads leading into the town. Four crosses, each 1 m. from the church, marked the mile limits in every direction of Hexham Sanctuary. Crosses, too, inscribed with the word " Sanctuarium, " were common on the highways, serving probably as sign-posts to guide fugitives to neighbouring sanctuaries. One is still to be seen at Armathwaite, Cumberland; and another at St Buryan's, Cornwall, at the corner of a road leading down to some ruins known locally as " the - Sanctuary." That such wayside crosses were themselves sanctuaries is in most cases improbable, but there still exist in Scotland the remains of a true sanctuary cross. This is known as MacDuff's Cross, near Lindores, Fifeshire. The legend is that, after the defeat of the usurper,Macbeth, in 1057, and the succession of Malcolm Canmore as Malcolm III. to the Scottish throne, MacDuff, as a reward for his assistance, was granted special sanctuary privileges for his kinsmen. Clansmen within the ninth degree of relationship to the chief of the clan, guilty of unpremeditated homicide, could, on reaching the cross, claim remission of the capital sentence. Probably the privilege has been exaggerated, the fugitive kinsmen were exempt from outside jurisdiction and liable only to the court of the earl of Fife. The canon law allowed the protection of sanctuary to those guilty of crimes of violence for a limited time only, in order that some compensation (wergild) should be made, or to check blood-vengeance. In several English churches there was a stone seat beside the altar which was known as the frith-stool (peace-stool), upon which the seeker of sanctuary sat. Examples of such sanctuary-seats still exist at Hexham and Beverley, and of the sanctuary knockers which hung on the church-doors one is still in position at Durham Cathedral. The procedure, upon seeking 1906, p. 85), " the real meaning of all law is that, unless acts conform to the course prescribed by it, the state will not only ignore and render no aid to them, but will also, either of its own accord or if called upon, intervene to cancel their effects. This intervention of the state is what is .called the ` sanction ' of law. " So Justinian (Inst. ii. 1, io), " Legum eas partes quibus poenas constituimus adversus eos qui contra leges fecerint, sanctiones vocamus." In general use, the word signifies approval or confirmation.
End of Article: SANCTION (Lat. sanctia, from sancire, to decree or ordain)

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