TitleEmpire and the Law
Date/TimeTuesday 8 July 2014: 16.30-18.00
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairMarios Costambeys, Department of History, University of Liverpool
Paper 812-a From Piety to the Death Penalty: New Capital Crimes in the Carolingian Empire
(Language: English)
Vicky Melechson, Fomento Library, Tel Aviv Jaffa Academic College
Index Terms: Administration; Biblical Studies; Law
Paper 812-b Legislation and its Afterlife in Early Medieval Europe
(Language: English)
Graham Barrett, School of History & Heritage, University of Lincoln
Index Terms: Administration; Charters and Diplomatics; Law; Literacy and Orality
Paper 812-c Laws of an Empire: After the Romans, What Were the Leges Barbarorum?
(Language: English)
Sharon Fischlowitz, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota / William Mitchell College of Law, Minnesota
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Latin; Law; Military History
AbstractPaper -a:
In this paper I will examine the capital crimes of the Merovingian and the Carolingian period. I will argue that even though Charlemagne limited application of the death penalty and instituted laws and procedures in order to achieve this goal, in the long term his religious reform had consequences that were the opposite of what was intended. The revising of the text of the Bible and the growing influence of the Old Testament led the followers of Charlemagne to apply capital punishment for misdeeds that had not been considered capital crimes before. For example, Louis the Pious (813-840) decreed the death penalty for those who committed murder in a church, excepting cases of self-defense. Along the same lines, Charles the Bald (840-877) demanded that witches and warlocks and their spouses be put to death in accordance with the laws found in the Book of Deuteronomy.

Paper -b:
The nature of the law codes of the post-Roman world is an open question: are they symbolic statements of royal authority never intended to be applied, or pragmatic guides that served to structure contemporary legal procedure? The ability to approach these texts on their own terms has long proved elusive owing to their apparent inferiority, as systems, to law as practiced in the Empire, but the monolith of imperial legislation contains a more iterative reality of constant and responsive engagement in legal prescription, which can provide a model for rereading early medieval legislation - with transformative implications, moreover, for its dissemination.

Paper -c:
As the Roman Empire transitioned out of territorial power in western Europe, rising local leaders issued written codifications of their customary laws. A close examination of some military provisions across the leges barbarorum, read within and beyond the context of Roman precedents and contemporaneous text, informs our understanding of the reach and influence of 'Rome' into a world no longer under Roman military and political hegemony.