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Title: The Frankish leges in the Carolingian period
Author: Faulkner, T. W. G.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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The so-called leges barbarorum, legal texts composed between the sixth and the eight centuries, were copied extraordinarily frequently in the ninth century, but not a single citation of a lex has been found in a Frankish charter or any kind of record of a dispute. Establishing how they were used is therefore problematic. Scholars in the last few decades have argued at length on the question of the extent of the practical, ‘legal’ use of the texts, and other possible uses, centred on ideology. This thesis attempts once again to make sense of the manuscripts of lex in the Carolingian period, focussing on important evidence, so far analysed incompletely in this context. The work is grounded in recent studies of dispute settlement, which consciously moved away from consideration of the prescriptive texts, but also uses the most helpful of the textual work of the German Rechtsschule. It examines the notion of practical use of leges, and of other symbolic uses suggested above all by the Wormald: their expression of royal ideology, and of ethnic identity. In the first two chapters I concentrated on texts in the genre of lex constructed in the Carolingian period, especially the Lex Saxonum and the so-called Lex Francorum Chamavorum, and also examine, briefly, the use of the seventh-century Lex Ribuaria. I provide a more detailed analysis of the context of their use than so far attempted, using charters and narratives, and link this with a study of the texts and their variations in the manuscripts. In the later chapters I concentrate of the relationship between royal authority, legal practice and lex. Chapter 3 focuses on the “capitularies adding to the leges”. I extend some recent approaches to the production of capitularies and argue that some allow insight into how leges might have been interpreted in real disputes.  Chapter 4 draws attention to indirect evidence in compilations, manuscript variations and annotations, that leges were sometimes read to help understand social, not just ethnic, identities, and argues that this reading can be related to wider Carolingian-era debates concerning the relationship between social and clerical status, freedom and unfreedom. An important result is that the leges were read for purposes including the settlement of legal cases, but that they were interpreted broadly; they might inform the consensus by which a case was settled, as a reference point for negotiation, but should not be seen as providing fixed rules. Finally in Chapter 5, I offer a detailed examination of the manuscripts of the leges-scriptorium identified by Bischoff and McKitterick. I trace the relationship between the texts the manuscripts copied, and their wider influence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available