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"G. BARIŢIU" INSTITUTE

PROCEDURI JUDICIARE ŞI ACTUL SCRIS. ASCULTĂRILE DE PERSOANE DIN TRANSILVANIA MEDIEVALĂ ŞI PREMODERNĂ


Susana Andea

Abstract:
The judicial praxis of hearing the witnesses’ statements, used from antiquity to the present day, has known various variants, some valid even today. It coexisted with the evidence given by sworn testimony that had gradually lost its probative value. Without known differentiated forms for civil and criminal cases in the Voivodship of Transylvania, the appeal to this practice was frequently encountered, the period of Princely Transylvania registering novelties in judicial practice. The present study analyzes different procedural aspects, addressing several issues, such as: who conducted the hearings, in what cases, the place, duration, and number of persons questioned, in which order, value of testimony, etc. The oral examination of witnesses materialized in a document with a well-defined form, initially written entirely in Latin, then, from the second half of the sixteenth century, being gradually substituted by some composite forms. The general beginning and closing phrases of such documents, written in Latin, were followed by the clarification of the questions and the answers of the witnesses, all written in the official language of the principality, either Hungarian or for the administrative space of the Saxon territories, German. The statements, in the case of Romanians, were translated into the vernacular of the respective administrative structure. During the princely government, the practice of the witnesses’ validation of their written testimonies by means of signature or seals also sporadically appears.
Keywords:
Transylvania, hearings, witness statement, written document, judicial praxis.