AALL Conference; Lex Baioariorum – Law of Bavaria

AALL Conference; Lex Baioariorum – Law of Bavaria

I will be joining several of my colleagues at the annual American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) conference in Baltimore this year, which begins on Sunday.  I missed last year’s conference, so I am really looking forward to connecting with my law library colleagues from all over the country.  I’ll be posting about a few of the conference programs on the DipLawMatic Dialogues blog, which is maintained by AALL’s Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS).

Before heading out to the conference, I wanted to write a quick post about a fascinating little book related to Bavarian historical law that I found in our collection recently:

Lex Baioariorum: Das Recht der Bayern
Roman Deutinger (Ed.), 2017
http://id.lib.harvard.edu/alma/990150173540203941/catalog 

This is a bilingual Latin-German version of the Lex Baioariorum, which is the law that was in place in Bavaria during the early middle ages. As my Latin is a little, well, insufficient to get through a text like this, I am so grateful that Dr. Deutinger took the time to translate and publish this book.

This code is divided into 23 subjects, and has a total of 270 chapters.  Its content includes “regulations for every possible aspect of human co-existence and the conflicts that could arise within it” (“Regelungen zu allen möglichen Bereichen des menschlichen Zusammenlebens und zu den Konflikten, die sich dabei ergeben können”) – everything from religious institutions and family relationships to personal injuries, criminal offenses, and the ownership of property.

Within the code, there are separate sanctions defined for offenses against “free people, liberated people, and slaves.”  Penalties are defined in great detail.  For example, hitting a free person on the nose results in a penalty of nine Schillings, whereas a strike to a free person’s ear meant only a three-Schilling penalty.  The latter was one of a host of penalties related to the ears of free people: cutting off a free person’s ear meant a 20-Schilling fine, but that penalty was doubled to 40 Schillings if the action resulted in an injury severe enough to render the person deaf.  If, however, you committed a similar action that resulted in a slave’s deafness, the fine was only four Schillings.

I spent my recent professional development leave at a university in what is today the German state of Bavaria, which is a beautiful area full of castles that has interesting and rich history and traditions.  Unfortunately, I was not able to take a course on the legal history in Bavaria, which is a shame because I think I would have enjoyed it a lot.

In any event, I hope to explore our library’s resources related to Germany’s legal history in more detail in future posts.

About: Jennifer Allison

Librarian for Foreign, Comparative, and International Law, Harvard Law School Library.
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