Schwabenspiegel: Lehenrechtbuch; an English translation
Slayton, William John
Master of Arts
This English translation of the Lehenrechtbuch (Book of Territorial Law) of the thirteenth century Schwabenspiegel (Swabian Mirror), a German lawbook written in Middle High German, has two basic objects. The immediate goal of the translator was to work with the Middle High German text as a philological problem, the solution of which is a rendering of the taxt into an English version which attempts to express as literally as possible the German sense of the words, yet preserve the spirit in which the Schwabenspiegel was composed. The second goal, the more significant of the two, is to present for the first time to English readers with an interest in medieval law the text of a legal document which was previously accessible only to those who could read Middle High German, The translation procedure was as follows: The main text upon which the translation is based, the edition of F. L. A. von Lassberg (Dor Schwabenspiegel Peudruck der Ausgabe 1840] [Meisenheim/Glan, 1961), was supplemented by the translator in places where it seemed garbled, incomplete, or otherwise in error, by making reference to an edition by K. A. Eckhardt (Schwabenspiegel Kurzform [Gottingen, 1960-61]). This translator knows of no other extant translations of the Schwabenspiegel in English, modern German, or any other language, and therefore a comparison of this translation with another one to clarify obscure passages was out of the question, The translator did, however, lean heavily upon the various histories of German law listed in the bibliography. In these books one can often find commentaries on the meaning and application of any law which might seem unclear at face value. Whenever a place name which is not immediately recognizable occurs in the translation, the translator has attempted to identify it in a footnote. To help the reader in regard to puzzling Middle High German terms, a glossary is provided at the end of the translation. The glossary gives page references not only to definitions of these terms, but also to other places where the terms occur in the course of the translation. The introduction which precedes the English translation is intended to show the relation of the Schwabenspiegel to the Middle Ages. First, the conception and attitude of this epoch in regard to law is discussed. Then follow sections dealing with (1) the origins of the Schwabenspiegel and of other medieval lawbooks, (2) the place of these lawbooks in Middle High German prose, and (3) the relationship of the Schwabenspiegel to thirtheenth century feudalism. Finally, the manuscript sources of the English translation are analyzed.