Chapters 2-3

The laws of Barbarians

March 30, 2020

The laws of these Barbarians were distinguished in the fact that they were not confined to a certain district.

  • The Frank was tried by the law of the Franks
  • The Aleman was tried by the law of the Alemans
  • The Burgundian was tried by the law of the Burgundians
  • The Roman was tried by the Roman law.

Those conquerors were so far from forming their laws to an uniform system. They did not even think of becoming legislators to their conquered people. This is due to the manners of the Germans who were parted by marshes, lakes, and forests.

Caesar observes that they were fond of such separations. Their dread of the Romans caused their union. Yet each individual among these mixed people was still to be tried by the established customs of his own tribe which was free and independent.

When they came to be intermixed, the independency continued. The country was common, the government peculiar. The territory the same, and the nations different. The spirit of personal laws prevailed therefore among those people before ever they set out from their own homes and carried it with them into the conquered provinces.

We find this custom established in=

  • The formulas of Marculfus
  • the law of the Ripuarians
  • the decrees of the kings of the first racefrom whence the capitularies on that subject in the second race were derived.

The children followed the laws of their father, the wife that of her husband, the widow came back to her own original law, and the freedman was under that of his patron. Besides, every man could make choice of what laws he pleased; but the constitution of Lotharius I. required this choice should be made public.

Chapter 3= Capital Difference between the Salic Laws and those of the Visigoths and Burgundians

The laws of the Burgundians and Visigoths were impartial.

But the Salic law was partial and distinguished between the Franks and Romans=

  • When a Frank, a Barbarian, or one living under the Salic law, was killed, 200 sols was to be paid to his relations
  • When a Roman proprietor was killed, only 100 would be paid
  • When a Roman tributary was killed, only 45 would be paid.
  • If a king’s vassals was killed=
    • if it were a Frank 600 sols would be paid
    • if it were a Roman, only 300 would be paid
  • If people killed a Frank in his house, the Salic law ordained a composition of 600 sols.
  • If a Roman or a freedman was killed, only half that composition.
  • If a Roman jailed a Frank, he was liable to a composition of 30 sols;
  • But if a Frank jailed a Roman, he paid only 15.
  • A Frank, stripped by a Roman, was entitled to the composition of 621/2 sols
  • A Roman stripped by a Frank, received only 30.

Such unequal treatment must needs have been very grievous to a Roman. And yet Abbé du Bos supposes that the Franks were the best friends of the Romans. They were the friends of the Romans, as the Mongols, who conquered China, were the friends of the Chinese.

If some Catholic bishops thought fit to use the Franks to destroy the Aryan kings, does it follow, that they had a desire of living under those barbarous people?

The less the Franks had to fear from the Romans, the less indulgence they shewed them.

Abbé du Bos consulted indifferent authorities for his history, such as poets and orators. But works of parade and ostentation are improper foundations for building systems.