The Proof by WitnessesMarch 5, 2020
THE judges, who had no other rule to go by than the usages, inquired very often by witnesses into every cause that was brought before them.
The usage of judicial combats was then beginning to decline, so they made their inquests in writing.
But a verbal proof committed to writing, is never more than a verbal proof. It only increased the expences of law proceedings. Regulations were then made which rendered most of those inquests useless.
Public registers were established. These ascertained most facts like nobility, age, legitimacy and marriage.
Writing was very hard to corrupt and so the customs were reduced to writing.
It is much easier to see the baptismal register whether Peter is the son of Paul than to prove it by a tedious inquest.
When there are many usages in a country, it is much easier to write them all down in a code, than to oblige individuals to prove every usage.
At length the famous ordinance was made, which prohibited the admitting of the proof by witnesses, for a debt exceeding 100 livres, except when there was a proof in writing from the start.