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What is a medieval summoner?

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Quick Answer

A medieval summoner was hired by the church to call out those who had sinned or committed spiritual crimes. Summoners were often of the lower class.

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During medieval times, a summoner would approach a person accused of committing crimes or sins and deliver a summons to appear before the ecclesiastical court. People accused of committing crimes often faced accusations of witchcraft, adultery or neglecting the rules set forth by the church.

Despite helping to enforce the laws of the church, the summoners themselves were thought to be immoral sinners. Over the centuries, tales of their misdeeds and immoral behavior were outlined in literary pieces such as "The Summoner's Tale" by Geoffrey Chaucer.

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