Law of the Visigoths – early 6th century code of Roman law applied to Hispano-Roman and Gallo-Roman peoples ruled by the Germanic Visigoths

lex Visigothorum:
(leks viza gah-thoram)
[Latin “law of the Visigoths’ ]

1. An early 6th century code of Roman law that applied to Hispano-Roman and Gallo-Roman peoples ruled by the Visigoths, a German tribe that conquered Spain in the 5th century.  *  Its primary source is the Breviary of Alaric, prepared for Alaric ll, the Visigoth king who ordered Roman law collected into this code.  In the late 7th century, Kings Recceswinth and Erwig imposed a Visigothic common law, and it is to this law that the phrase lex Visigothorum usually applies. — Also spelled lex Wisigothorum. — Sometimes written lex Romana Wisigothorum.  — aka lex Romana Visigothorum; liber judiciorum.  See BREVIARIUM ALARICIANUM.

Breviarium Alaricianum:
(bree-vee-air-ee-am al-a-ri-kayv nam)

1. An abridgment (or breviary) of Roman law compiled by order of the Visigoth king Alaric II, published for the use of his Roman subjects in the year 506.  *  Revised versions were known as the Lex Romana Visigothorum.  It was also termed Breviarium Aniani after Alaric’s chancellor, Anian, who edited and distributed the work. — aka Breviary of Alaric. [1]

     Excerpt from David M. Walker’s The Oxford Companion to Law (1980):

     “Though the Breviarium was later replaced by the Lex Visigothorum in the Visigothic kingdom, it continued in use in southern France and Lombardy, which had meantime passed under the dominion of the Franks. Its qualities made the Breviarium a book of high authority throughout the whole of western Europe during the Middle Ages and it was one of the main channels through which Roman law entered western European law prior to the Reception. [2]

Other Barbarian Law Systems:

Salic Law – principal compilation of early Germanic law developed by Salian Franks.

Law of the Burgundians – the law of the (Germanic) Burgundians, first published about AD. 495.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

 [2]: David M. Walker, The Oxford Companion to Law 151-52 (1980).


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