Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner 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
In 78 BC, pirates of modern-day Turkey captured
Julius Caesarand held him on Pharmakonisiuntil someone paid a fee for him. 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 nobilityor 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.
When ransom means "payment", the word comes via Old French "rançon" from Latin "redemptio" = "buying back": compare "".
In Christianity, ransom is the shed blood of
JesusChrist, which made deliverance from sinand death possible for the offspring of Adam.
In Judaism ransom is called "kofer-nefesh" (.
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 effectoccurs 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.
bail, a judicially determined sum of money deposited as security to ensure that a prisoner appears in court if released.
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