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Blood court

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Title: Blood court  
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Subject: Council of Cannstatt, Westerburg, Landsgemeinde, Pfullendorf, Massacre of Verden
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Blood court

Blood Court (German: Blutgericht )[1] or high justice in the Holy Roman Empire referred to the right of a Vogt (a reeve) to hold a criminal court inflicting bodily punishment, including the death penalty (also known as ius gladii).

Not every Vogt held the blood court. Up to the 18th century, for example, the blood court of much of what is now the canton of Zürich lay with Kyburg, even in the territory ruled by the counts of Greifensee. The self-administration of the blood court was an important factor of Imperial immediacy.


The Blutbanner ("blood banner") or Blutfahne ("blood flag") was a solid red flag. It was presented to feudal lords as a symbol of their power of high jurisdiction (Blutgerichtsbarkeit) together with the heraldic banner of the fief. Some feudal houses adopted a red field symbolic of the blood banner into their coat of arms, the so-called Regalienfeld. The Talschaft (forest canton) of Schwyz used the blood banner as a war flag from ca. 1240, and was later incorporated into the flag of Schwyz and the flag of Switzerland.


  • Richard J. Evans, Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany, 1600-1987, Oxford University Press (1996).

See also

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