Lombards and Leges Langobardorum

Research Project

The project looks at the codification, tradition and effectiveness of Lombard law between the 7th and the 12th centuries. At the centre of interest are the Leges Langobardorum which were put into writing in the North Italian Lombard kingdom between 643 and 755. They comprise of the Edictum Rothari – the oldest integral part – as well as the laws of Grimoald, Liutprand, Ratchis and Aistulf. In the course of the 10th and 11th centuries the Leges Langobardorum were first combined together with Carolingian capitularies and Ottonian constitutions to a chronological collection, the so-called Liber Papiensis. Later on in the course of the 11th century the Lombard laws were glossed in the School of Pavia and rearranged as part of a systematical collection (Lombarda). Ultimately, the Lombard legal tradition led to the  "Renaissance of jurisprudence" in the 12th century and – in its last offshoots – to the Early Modern Period.

Apart from other particularities like the high substantial and formal quality of the Leges Langobardorum as well as their good textual tradition Lombard legal culture is characterized by its extraordinary vitality. This vigor on the one hand bespeaks of the manifold processes of transformation secular lex scripta underwent since the end of Antiquity. On the other hand the Lombard legal tradition offers valuable insights into the presence of legal knowledge and techniques how to deal with legal texts in post-Roman times. This, in turn, does not only provide a better understanding of the main course of legal development between Antiquity and the High Middle Ages. Rather the Lombard sources also offer the opportunity to put some traditional notions e.g. as regards Germanic law or the "miracle" of Bologna to the test. As far as the Leges Langobardorum are concerned the project does not only aim at an investigation into Lombard institutions and the respective manuscript tradition but also – from a methodological and comparative point of view – at a better understanding of the legal history of the early Middle Ages.

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