Ransom: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved.

In early Germanic law a similar concept was called Weregild.

Julius Caesar was captured by pirates near the island of Pharmacusa and held until someone paid 50 talents to free him.[1] It also refers to demanding concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action.

In Europe during the Middle Ages, ransom became an important custom of chivalric warfare. An important knight, especially nobility or royalty, was worth a significant sum of money if captured, but nothing if he was killed. For this reason, the practice of ransom contributed to the development of heraldry, which allowed knights to advertise their identities, and by implication their ransom value, and made them less likely to be killed out of hand. Examples include Richard the Lion Heart and Bertrand du Guesclin.

When ransom means "payment", the word comes via Old French rançon from Latin redemptio = "buying back":[2] compare "redemption".

In Christianity, ransom is the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which made deliverance from sin and death possible for the offspring of Adam.

In Judaism ransom is called kofer-nefesh (Hebrew: כפר נפש‎). Among other uses, the word was applied to the poll tax of a half shekel to be paid by every male above twenty years at the census.[3]

In the popular imagination, ransom notes (i.e. letters sent by the captors to those who they expect to pay up) are constructed from letters cut from newspapers to stop anyone from recognising the handwriting of the extortionist.

In typography, and later in computing lore, the ransom note effect occurs when a document uses too many fonts.

In school athletics, a school's mascot is sometimes kidnapped, and the ransom payment is usually a contest like a football game.

Although ransom is usually demanded only after the kidnapping of a person, it is not unheard of for thieves to demand ransom for the return of an inanimate object or body part. In 1987, thieves broke into the tomb of Argentinian president Juan Perón and stole his hands; they later demanded $8 million US for their return. The ransom was not paid.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Plutarch, “The Life of Julius Caesar,” in The Parallel Lives, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1919, Vol. VII, p. 445. The pirates originally demanded 20 talents, but Caesar felt he was worth more. After he was freed he came back, captured the pirates, took their money and eventually crucified all of them, a fate he had threatened the incredulous pirates with during his captivity.
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "ransom". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.  
  3. ^ Exodus 30:11-16
  4. ^ "Peron Hands: Police Find Trail Elusive." The New York Times, September 6, 1987. Accessed October 16, 2009.

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Ransom article)

From Wikisource

The Ransom / La Rançon
by Charles Baudelaire
Translated by Sir John Squire (1884 - 1958), published 1908. Source: The Flowers of Evil, ed. Marthiel and Jackson Mathews, New Directions edition, 1989.

The Ransom

To pay his ransom man must toil
With Reason’s implement alone
To plough and rake and free from stone
Two plots of hard volcanic soil.

And if he would from out them wrench
A few thorns or a meagre flower,
Continually a heavy shower
Of his salt sweat their roots must drench.

The one is Art, the other Love;
And on that last and terrible day
The wrath of the stern judge to stay,
To escape the vengeance from above,

He must show barns whose uttermost
Recesses swell with ripened grain,
And blooms whose shapes and hues will gain
The suffrage of the Heavenly Host.

The note on the translation:

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain). Flag of the United States.svg

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RANSOM (from Lat. redemptio, through Fr. rancon), the price for which a captive in war redeemed his life or his freedom, a town secured immunity from sack, and a ship was repurchased from her captors. The practice of taking ransom arose in the middle ages, and had perhaps a connexion with the common Teutonic custom of commuting for crimes by money payments. It may, however, have no such historic descent. The desire to make profit out of the risks of battle, even when they were notably diminished by the use of armour, would account for it sufficiently. The right to ransom was recognized by law. One of the obligations of a feudal tenant was to contribute towards paying the ransom of his lord. England was taxed for the ransom of Richard the Lion Hearted, France for King John taken at Poitiers, and Scotland for King David when he was captured at Durham. The prospect of gaining the ransom of a prisoner must have tended to diminish the ferocity of medieval war, even when it did not reduce the fighting between the knights to a form of athletic sport in which the loser paid a forfeit. Readers of Froissart will find frequent mention of this decidedly commercial aspect of the chivalrous wars of the time. He often records how victors and vanquished arranged their "financing." The mercenary views of the military adventuers were not disguised. Froissart repeats the story that the English "free companions" or mercenaries, who sold their services to the king of Portugal, grumbled at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, because he ordered their prisoners to be killed, and would not pursue the defeated French and Spaniards, whereby they lost lucrative captures. The ransom of a king belonged to the king of the enemy by whom he was taken. The actual captor was rewarded at the pleasure of his lord. King Edward III. paid over instalments of the ransom of the king of France to the Black Prince, to pay the expenses of his expedition into Spain in 1367. Occasionally, as in the notable case of Bertrand du Guesclin, the ransom of a valuable knight or leader would be paid by his own sovereign. To trade in ransoms became a form of financial speculation. Sir John Fastolf in the time of King Henry V. is said to have made a large fortune by buying prisoners, and then screwing heavy ransoms out of them by ill-usage. The humane influence of ransom was of course confined to the knights who could pay. The common men, who were too poor, were massacred. Thus Lord Grey, Queen Elizabeth's lord deputy in Ireland, spared the officers of the Spaniards and Italians he took at Smerwick, but slaughtered the common men. Among the professional soldiers of Italy in the 15th century the hope of gaining ransom tended to reduce war to a farce. They would not lose their profits by killing their opponents. The disuse of the practice was no doubt largely due to the discovery that men who were serving for this form of gain could not be trusted to fight seriously.

Instances in which towns paid to avoid being plundered are innumerable. So late as the war in the Peninsula, 1808-14, it was the belief of the English soldiers that a town taken by storm was liable to sack for three days, and they acted on their conviction at Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz and San Sebastian. It was a question whether ransoms paid by merchant ships to escape were or were not among the commercia belli. In the early 18th century the custom was that the captain of a captured vessel gave a bond or "ransom bill," leaving one of his crew as hostage or "ransomer" in the hands of the captor. Frequent mention is made of the taking of French privateers which had in them ten or a dozen ransomers. The owner could be sued on his bond. At the beginning of the Seven Years' War ransoming was forbidden by act of parliament. But it was afterwards at least partially recognized by Great Britain, and was generally allowed by other nations. In recent times - for instance in the Russo-Japanese War - no mention was made of ransom, and with the disappearance of privateering, which was conducted wholly for gain, it has ceased to have any place in war at sea, but the contributions levied by invading armies might still be accurately described by the name.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

the price or payment made for our redemption, as when it is said that the Son of man "gave his life a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28; comp. Acts 20:28; Rom 3:23, 24; 1Cor 6:19, 20; Gal 3:13; 4:4, 5: Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 1 Tim 2:6; Tit 2:14; 1 Pet 1:18, 19. In all these passages the same idea is expressed). This word is derived from the Fr. rancon; Lat. redemptio. The debt is represented not as cancelled but as fully paid. The slave or captive is not liberated by a mere gratuitous favour, but a ransom price has been paid, in consideration of which he is set free. The original owner receives back his alienated and lost possession because he has bought it back "with a price." This price or ransom (Gr. lutron) is always said to be Christ, his blood, his death. He secures our redemption by the payment of a ransom. (See REDEMPTION.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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This article needs to be merged with RANSOM (Jewish Encyclopedia).

Simple English

Ransom can mean two things:

  1. Holding a person against their will, in order to get some money (or some other things)
  2. The money, or the goods which (could possibly) be obtained in such a way.

If people talk about that they need to pay money to the state or the police, to get free, the correct legal term used is usually bail.

Often in piracy, pirates would steal something or someone important and demand a ransom payment.

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