You read that right: marital, not martial. Over the years we’ve all had a chuckle when knuckleheads got the two confused, but in this case, we literally mean a husband and wife beating each other to death, sanctioned by local courts.
In medieval Europe, particularly under the Holy Roman Empire, resolving marital disputes often involved trial by combat. However, to keep things fair, several interesting stipulations were put in place. That’s right, Social Justice Warriors of Tumblr, they literally put the man in a hole in the interests of equality.
German law provided that in such a case the man should be armed with three wooden clubs. He was to put be up to his waist in a three-foot wide hole dug in the ground, with one hand tied behind his back. The woman was to be armed with three rocks, each weighing between one and five pounds, and each one wrapped in cloth in form of a small sack. The man could not leave his hole but the woman was free to run around the edge of the pit. If the man touched the edge of the pit with either his hand or his arm, he had to surrender one of his clubs to the judges. If the woman hit him with a rock while he was doing so, she forfeited one of her stones.
Whether or not this counts as “Traditional Marriage” we’ll leave up to the experts (and the bigots), but the spectacle was undoubtedly more entertaining than spending an hour a week in counseling. Oh, and bonus: if the sticks and stones didn’t break enough bones in the process, the loser was often put to death, sometimes by being buried alive.