Leges Romanae Barbarorum

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Leges romanae barbarorum is a comprehensive term employed for the law codes issued by the Germanic kings, from the middle of the 5th century a.d., for their subjects of Roman origin. They are the Lex Romana Visigothorum, Lex Romana Burgundionum, and Lex Romana Curiensis. Whether the Visigoths had put out an earlier Codex Theodoricianus c. 458 to 466 for the population living under their traditional Roman law is a disputed question. The personal principle was still in force at that time, i.e., Romans and Germans lived under a different law; although both were under the same German royal rule. Gradually the territorial principle dominated, i.e., the same law for all subjects, a step that was closely connected with Romanization. The extant sources (leges ) reflect in part this development, since at first one finds side by side Leges Romanae for the Romans and Leges Barbarorum for the Germans, but later one finds a merging of the two into a common code of law for both elements of the population. For example, on the one hand, the prohibition of marriage between Goths and Romans was abolished under King Leovigild (568586), and the abandonment of Arianism for Catholicism by the Goths under Leovigild's successor, Reccared I (586601), was of basic significance for the process of legal unification. On the other hand, among the other Gothic peoples, e.g., the Ostrogoths (so in the kingdom of Theodoric between a.d. 493 and 507), the law was the same for Romans and Germans from the outset.

The Roman law in the Leges Romanae constituted what was known as a vulgar law. It was no longer on the level of classical jurisprudence and was somewhat primitive and crude. No distinction was made anywhere between ownership and possession. The drafting of the Leges was done by members of the clergy and laymen trained in Roman law. However, it is possible, often very clearly, to trace the respective roles of the royal chanceries and the Church in the legislation. At times the influence of the Roman vulgar law was so strong that it all but suppressed German national law. The latter then maintained itself outside the Leges as customary law over a long period. During the high Middle Ages in Spain, for example, in a land once held by the visigoths, it even received a written form in the socalled Fueros.

Bibliography: r. buchner, Die Rechtsquellen in w. waten-bach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter. Vorzeit und Karolinger, Hefte 14, ed. w. levison and h. lÖwe (Weimar 195263) Beiheft 1953. k. von amira and k. a. eckhardt, Germanisches Recht, v.1 (4th ed. Berlin 1960). h. mitteis and h. lieberich, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte (9th ed. Munich 1965). Estudios visigóticos, v.2 El Codigo de Eurico (Rome 1960) ed. and tr. a. d'ors.

[h. thieme]