What is PURGATION?

The act of cleansing or exonerating one’s self of a crime, accusation, or suspicion of guilt by denying the charge on oath or by ordeal. Canonical purgation was made by the party’s taking his own oath that he was inno- cent of the charge, which was supported by the oath of twelve compurgators, who swore they believed he spoke the truth. To this succeeded the mode of purgation by the single oath of the party himself, called the “oath ex officio,” of which the modern defendant’s oath in chancery is a modification. 3 Bl. Comm. 447; 4 Bl. Comm. 308. Vulgar purgation consisted in ordeals or trials by hot and cold water, by fire, by hot irons, by battel, by corsned, etc.

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