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Thoughts on the Meaning of Treason
by Dean Hazel

In early England there was a system of Law, and it did occasionally punish such wrong-doing.  This system of Law was the Common Law, based on the customs of society established by precedent since Saxon times, supplemented in the 15th-century by the Statutes of Parliament and, within its limitations, it was relatively efficient.  It was administered by the King's Justices sitting in London who heard and determined the civil and criminal cases brought before them.  At regular intervals they journeyed to the furthermost parts of the Kingdom on Assize for the same purposes. 

This system had a number of defects, the chief one being that with or without the common law, the statutory law was not comprehensive; it was not so far developed that it could provide an answer to every dispute of every nature.  Another defect was that the Judges were in no position to enforce their judgments against the mighty of the Land.  Often, they did not even seem inclined to try; there were all too many cases where they were intimidated, or even bribed, and the weighty influence of a prominent man could decide the outcome of a case regardless of its legal merits in either common law or under the statutes of England. 

It was not the case that the English despised their Law; on the contrary, they had a great respect for it, and had the reputation of being very litigious, seemingly desirous (at least in some cases), that all quarrels should be settled by its provisions.  Today's concept of 'Rule by Law' however, was totally unknown in and prior to the 15th-century.  'Rule by Law' is thought to be able to answer any question via legislation, which is all-pervasive, and which obliges people to live together harmoniously, to put aside their murderous and acquisitive habits, and to settle their disputes, whatever they may be and of whatever nature in the way that the letter of the  Law says they must.

Under the Norman law, there were crimes against the sovereign and crimes against the people.  This formed the basis of high treason and low treason, grand treason and petty or petit treasons.  In discussing the latter we must regard the historical origins of petit treason as a basis to defining this term when applying it today and preserving the social order, the real foundations of society.

Within this context from its simple origins to what was most perceived to be its most modern application, the meaning and use of such a charge seems to have been lost to license tales of lust, marital and romantic betrayals among the religiously oppressed and not to protect the people from the erosion of the foundations of an orderly society and that which is more essential to our social order and civilization than the basis of gossip and marital betrayal, such as subversion of law and the betrayal of the rights of the citizens and society that it was made to protect!  For subversion of the law by itself, is not, nor has it ever been considered in modern times to be high treason!

Just plain subversion of the social order via subversion of the laws which establishes and governs it is far more important than the attention garnered by these gossip tales and charges of the subversion of a marriage by murder!  See page 31 of “DANGEROUS FAMILIARS” Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550–1700, by Frances E. Dolan.  The diversion to the assumption that petit treason is nothing more than murder is a testament to the lewd appetites of the religiously oppressed and the desire to protect public officials against justice, when their acts or deliberate failure to act so openly betray the social order, our laws, the foundations of our society, is to ignore the true scope of this law and its historical application to such acts as robbery by piracy, counterfeiting the king’s coin or merely slapping the face of a constable, distinguished from the act of assaulting a posse member or sheriff deputy. 

All of these acts as well as many others not mentioned, perhaps not recorded as having ever been charged, have nothing to do with murder, but have everything to do with destroying the social order, the pillars of our civilization if tolerated as are modern day subversions by public servants tolerated today.

A social structure for such a society was of necessity based on loyalty just as today.  A subordinate owed his loyalty to a superior, such as a servant to his master, a public servant to the people, a wife to her husband, and a landowner to his immediate Lord.  A breach of this loyalty could be petit treason, itself a serious enough offence.  In the superlative degree, all in the past owed allegiance to the King, and it was Grand Treason to bear arms against him, to disobey his directions, to thwart his designs, perhaps even to give tongue to words derogatory of him or his state. 

Feudal society, and indeed that of the later medieval society which succeeded it, resembled nothing so much as a pyramid with the King at its apex.  In such a society, disloyalty put the whole of society at risk, was regarded with abhorrence, and was punished most severely as subversive public officials should be punished today.  Breaches of the lower allegiance, of public, private and domestic faith, were denominated petit treason.  If a breach of a public trust, an oath to support and/or defend our constitutions and thereby all our laws as intended, ignorance being no excuse, a crime would have been committed more surely against the people, society, than if a wife were to murder her spouse!

Let us discern the elements of Petit Treason taken from the commentaries of Blackstone.  Please note that in the original text that Blackstone writes, f stands for f, but also for s. 

.P 75.
CH. 6.

TREASON, proditio, in it's very name (which is borrowed from the French) imports a betraying, treachery, or breach of faith.  It therefore happens only between allies, faith the mirror b: for treafon is indeed a general appellation, made ufe of by the law, to denote not only offences againft the king and government, but alfo that accumulation of guilt which arifes whenever a fuperior repofes a confidence in a fubject or inferior, between whom and himfelf there fubfifts a natural, a civil, or even a fpiritual relation ; and inferior fo abufes that confidence, fo fortgets the obligations of duty, fubjection, and allegiance, as to deftroy the life of any fuch his fuperior or lord.  This is looked upon as proceeding from the fame principle of treachery in private life, as would have urged him who harbours it to have confpired in public againft his liege lord and fovereign : and therefore for a wife to kill her lord or hufband, a fervant his lord or mafter, and an ecclefiaftic his lord or ordinary ; thefe being breaches of the lower allegiance, of private and domeftic faith, are denominated petit treafons.  But when difloylty fo rears it's creft, as to attack even majefty itfelf, it is called by way of eminent diftinction high treafon, alta proditio ; being equivalent to the crimen laefae majeftatis of the Romans, as Glanvil c denominates it alfo in our Englifh law.

As this is the higheft civil crime, which (confidered as a member of the community) any man can poffibly commit, it ought therefore to be the moft precifely afcertained. For if the crime of high treafon be indeterminate, this alone (fays the prefident Montefquieu) is fufficient to make any government degenerate into arbitrary power d. And yet, by the antient common law, there was a great latitude left in the breaft of the judges, to determine what was treafon, or not fo : whereby the creatures of tyrannical princes had opportunity to create abundance of conftructive treafons ; that is, to raife, by forced and arbitrary

The law of England removed murder and felonies from being prosecuted as Petit Treason after 1828.  Long after our departure from England with English law that predated 1776 or 1787.  What are the elements of Petit Treason, but breaches of the lower allegiances to the people as opposed to the king, royal family, and parliament as government. 

What was the law in 1776 or 1787?  Any applicable thing that they cared to prosecute.  The elements were there, though the common law was not as they dwell more upon the broad broom and brush of coloring most offenses as a species of high treason itself or as contemporary felonies!  Were acts not encompassing murder that could be considered Petit Treason prior to 1787 still available for the Colonial States now known as The United States of America to prosecute if they so chose to?  I think so!  Petit Treason was recognized as a certain type of murder by the territorial legislature of Michigan in 1833, who legislated that the punishment shall be hanging, the same as for murder and not distinguished from such.

English law is a law of precedence and statutes, existing first in the common law via precedent, and then both the common law and statutes of England.  The crime of Petit Treason or parva prodʹitio, was a crime whose nature was to destroy the foundations of society.  Nothing does this more than a subversion of good law, by a subversive act of a public servant owing allegiance to the people in keeping the domestic faith within the state. 

The common law of England is specifically limited or expanded by statutes.  Where no inference is made by statute, it remains unaffected and enforceable as its broad elements provide such construction as to protect the people with charges of Petit Treason against the subversive betrayal of their laws by their public servants, which works a crime in and of itself against all of the people of the state.  For one can still destroy the life of the people without murdering them!  If the people be king, subversion is treason and if not, no less than petit treason!  Hang the bastards!

I regard the necessity of punishing petit treason to restore order and the obedience of our public servants as, "Meaningful Suspensions!"  What seems to be missed by so-called legal scholars, either by carelessness or design, is that it is not a particular act that forms the crime of petit treason, but rather the nature of the act to erode or destroy the foundations of our civilization, which is the law and order upon which it is designed, based and dependent in order to survive with liberty and justice for all!  The only thing that I have found that were ever done away with, is not petit treason, but rather certain acts that in the past were regarded and classified as such.

The only thing I feel like adding is that the Patriot Uprising would do well, as a start to call for completely respectful nonaggressive behavior toward all nonaggressive human beings by public officials. With the penalty being, if not capital, at least severe financial restitution to those victimized. — Brian Wright, ed.

And then there is that quote from V for Vendetta:

People should not be afraid of their governments;
governments should be afraid of their people.— V

2010 September 06
Copyright © Dean Hazel | Reposted with permission by CC
Petit Treason | Treason | Common Law | Dean Hazel | Public Order

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