The Visigothic Code (Book VI): translation and analysis
Lear, Floyd S.
Master of Arts
This thesis deals with Visigothic criminal law. It is concerned, specifically, with Book VI of the original version of the last Visigothic law code, the Leges Visigothorum, promulgated in Spain by King Receswinth in the year 654. As the title suggests, the thesis is divided into two distinct parts: a translation and a commentary. Although the Leges Visigothorum was the last official law code in the Visigothic Kingdom, it underwent many changes before the Arab invasion of Spain in the eighth century. There is one English translation of the last version of the code, the Forum Iudicum. It was prepared by S. P. Scott and published in 1910 as The Visigothic Code. Unfortunately, there are no English translations of the code in its original form, the Liber Iudiciorum. In this thesis I have translated one of the twelve books of the Liber. Book VI contains fifty-one laws. It is titled De Isceleribus et Tormentiis ("Crimes and Tortures"). It has five chapters: I) "Accusation;" II) "Concerning Sorcerers, Those Consulting Them and concerning Poisoners;" III) "Abortion;" IV) "Wounds and mutilations," and V) "Murders and Deaths of Men." The commentary in the thesis is composed of four chapters. The first one is introductory. It establishes the Leges Visigothorum within the whole corpus of Visigothic law, and outlines the contents of the code. The second chapter discusses the role of punishment in the Visigothic Code. It devotes special attention to decalvation, and points out the different views concerning its nature: shaving the head versus scalping. Chapter III is the most important of the chapters in the thesis. It attempts to present the two general schools of thought concerning the application of Visigothic law, and then it relates the discussion to Book VI by analyzing the laws in the book that have entered the controversy. The Germanist school believes Visigothic law followed Germanic custom and was personal. In this case the Visigoths would have been ruled by one legal system and the Hispano-Romans by another. The Romanist scholars prefer to think it followed Roman tradition and was territorial law. If such had been the case, it would have been the only law in the land, it would have been applicable to all subjects alike and would have united the two peoples. The last chapter is dedicated to the Latin text. The first part of the chapter deals with the differences in Book VI between the Liber Iudiciorum and the Forum Iudicum. The second part speaks of the didactic style in the Leges Visigothorum, which is very different from the short and direct style of most of the leges barbarorim. The text followed for the thesis is Karl Zeumer's critical edition of the Loges Visigothorum. In this edition he presents the code as it developed historically. It was published in 1902 in the section of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica entitled Legum Nationum Germanicarum.