The Turin Shroud (1355)
Genuine Relic or Medieval Fake?
Hard-core criminality is nothing new. Catch the evening news, with its endless litany of drive-by shootings, armed holdups, and other scenes of urban mayhem, and it’s all too easy to run away with the notion that we are living in the most lawless era in history. Nothing could be farther from the truth; we’re just better informed. For sheer, unadulterated havoc and skulduggery, nothing can top the Middle Ages. Setting aside the blood-drenched wars and the ravaging plagues, it was a time when murder was commonplace; rape went unpunished; and incest thrived in remote rural areas. It was an age of quite extraordinary violence to person and property, and wholesale theft. From the highest in the land to the lowliest peasant, nobody escaped the ravages of crime—not even the established church.
In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church was a vast, sprawling corporation, the biggest business on earth; like most multinationals, it was riven by internecine feuding. Not all of the disputes were theological; greed played its part. For while it’s true that all financial roads may ultimately have led to Rome, across Europe hard-nosed priests were after their slice of the cake as well. Competition for the franc, florin, ducat, guilder, and groat was razor-sharp, with individual parishes fighting hard to attract the biggest congregation. Everyone was looking for an edge, and the biggest edge of all was undoubtedly a religious relic. Any house of
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Publication information: Book title: A Question of Evidence: A Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies, from Napoleon to O.J. Contributors: Colin Evans - Author. Publisher: Wiley. Place of publication: Hoboken, NJ. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 5.
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