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summoner


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In medieval England and Scotland a minor official (not a cleric), who summoned people before the ecclesiastical courts. Summoners acquired inquisitorial powers in cases that could incur excommunication, such as non-payment of tithes, heresy, usury, slander, and witchcraft. Over 10,000 excommunication writs survive from the 13th century. Summoners were condemned for extortion in the Council of London (1342), by Parliament (1378), and by writers including Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales.


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