Women in sixth century Roman and Germanic law
Drew, Katherine F.
Master of Arts
This thesis constitutes a comparison of two legal systems as they reflect the legal position of women. One of the codes is the Lex Burcrondionum. promulgated circa 5 A.D. for the Germanic population of French Burgundy. The other code is the Lex Romana Burcrundionum. codified circa 52 A.D. for the non-dominant Roman population of Burgundy. Usually a comparison of any two law codes must be considered risky, as such a comparison has few areas in which the results might be considered valid. However, sixth century Burgundy is one of the few times and places during history in which both a primitive and a civilized law code have existed and each dealt with similar situations from their own respective backgrounds. The codes have enough similarities to develop a solid basis in research, and enough differences to make the results significant. Law throughout history has basically concerned itself with three issues: marriage regulations, criminal assault, and property rights. A study of these three areas as they relate to women in both Roman and Germanic law determines that women on the whole suffered slight legal disability under either code. Both codes protected women in marriage, although the Roman treatment of adultery and divorce provided greater legal redress for the woman than did the Germanic treatment. As regards criminal assault, however, the Germanic code was slanted more to protection of the woman than was the Roman. In perhaps the most important area, property rights, very few conditions regulated women's ability to own, control, or dispose of property. The Roman system provided better advantages as regards inheritance, but neither system allowed the women to be entirely dependent on others. As a whole, the Roman legal code provided greater legal independence, but the Germanic restrictions on women were not extensive.