The Salic Law enacted by Clovis I- 500 CE
Lex Salica or Salian Frankish Code of Civil Law compiled by the first Frankish King Clovis-I
Original: Latin German mixed language
THE SALIC LAW.
Title I. Concerning Summonses.
1. If any one be summoned before the “Thing” by the king’s law, and do not come, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings (solidi).
2. But he who summons another, and does not come himself, shall, if a lawful impediment have not delayed him, be sentenced to 15 shillings, to be paid to him whom he summoned.
3. And he who summons another shall walk with witnesses to the home of that man, and, if he be not at home, shall bid the wife or any one of the family to make known to him that he has been summoned to court.
4. But if he be occupied in the king’s service he can not summon him.
5. But if he shall be inside the hundred seeing about his own affairs, he can summon him in the manner explained above.
Title II. Concerning Thefts of Pigs, etc.
1. If any one steal a sucking pig, and it be proved against him, he shall be sentenced to 120 denars, which make three shillings.
2. If any one steal a pig that can live without its mother, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 40 denars — that is, 1 shilling.
14. If any one steal 25 sheep where there were no more in that flock, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 2500 denars — that is, 62 shillings.
Title III. Concerning Thefts of Cattle.
4. If any one steal that bull which rules the herd and never has been yoked, he shall be sentenced to 1800 denars, which make 45 shillings.
5. But if that bull is used for the cows of three villages in common, he who stole him shall be sentenced to three times 45 shillings.
6. If any one steal a bull belonging to the king he shall be sentenced to 3600 denars, which make 90 shillings.
Title IV. Concerning Damage done among Crops or in any Enclosure.
1. If any one finds cattle, or a horse, or flocks of any kind in his crops, he shall not at all mutilate them.
2. If he do this and confess it, he shall restore the worth of the animal in place of it, and shall himself keep the mutilated one.
3. But if he have not confessed it, and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced, besides the value of the animal and the fines for delay, to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
Title XI. Concerning Thefts or Housebreakings of Freemen.
1. If any freeman steal, outside of the house, something worth 2 denars, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
2. But if he steal, outside of the house, something worth 40 denars, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced, besides the amount and the fines for delay, to 1400 denars, which make 35 shillings.
3. If a freeman break into a house and steal something worth 2 denars, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 15 shillings.
4. But if he shall have stolen something worth more than 5 denars. and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced, besides the worth of the object and the fines for delay, to 1400 denars, which make 35 shillings.
5. But if he have broken, or tampered with, the lock, and thus have entered the house and stolen anything from it, he shall be sentenced, besides the worth of the object and the fines for delay, to 1800 denars, which make 45 shillings.
6. And if he have taken nothing, or have escaped by flight, he shall, for the housebreaking alone, be sentenced to 1200 denars, which make 30 shillings.
Title XII. Concerning Thefts or Housebreakings on the Part of Slaves.
1. If a slave steal, outside of the house, something worth two denars, he shall, besides paying the worth of the object and the fines for delay, be stretched out and receive 120 blows.
2. But if he steal something worth 40 denars, he shall either be castrated or pay 6 shillings. But the lord of the slave who committed the theft shall restore to the plaintiff the worth of the object and the fines for delay.
Title XIII. Concerning Rape committed by Freemen.
1. If three men carry off a free born girl, they shall be compelled to pay 30 shillings.
2. If there are more than three, each one shall pay 5 shillings.
3. Those who shall have been present with boats shall be sentenced to three shillings.
4. But those who commit rape shall be compelled to pay 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
5. But if they have carried off that girl from behind lock and key, or from the spinning room, they shall be sentenced to the above price and penalty.
6. But if the girl who is carried off be under the king’s protection, then the “frith” (peace-money) shall be 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
7. But if a bondsman of the king, or a leet, should carry off a free woman, he shall be sentenced to death.
8. But if a free woman have followed a slave of her own will, she shall lose her freedom.
9. If a freeborn man shall have taken an alien bondswoman, he shall suffer similarly.
10. If any body take an alien spouse and join her to himself in matrimony, he shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
Title XIV. Concerning Assault and Robbery.
1. If any one have assaulted and plundered’ a free man, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
2. If a Roman have plundered a Salian Frank, the above law shall be observed.
3. But if a Frank have plundered a Roman, he shall be sentenced to 35 shillings.
4. If any man should wish to migrate, and has permission from the king, and shall have shown this in the public “Thing:” whoever, contrary to the decree of the king, shall presume to oppose him, shall be sentenced to 8000 denars, which make 200 shillings.
Title XV. Concerning Arson.
1. If any one shall set fire to a house in which men were sleeping, as many freemen as were in it can make complaint before the “Thing;” and if any one shall have been burned in it, the incendiary shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
Title XVII. Concerning Wounds.
1. If any one have wished to kill another person, and the blow have missed, he on whom it was proved shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
2. If any person have wished to strike another with a poisoned arrow, and the arrow have glanced aside, and it shall be proved on him: he shall be sentenced to 2500 denairs, which make 63 shillings.
3. If any person strike another on the head so that the brain appears, and the three bones which lie above the brain shall project, he shall be sentenced to 1200 denars, which make 30 shillings.
4. But if it shall have been between the ribs or in the stomach, so that the wound appears and reaches to the entrails, he shall be sentenced to 1200 denars — which make 30 shillings — besides five shillings for the physician’s pay.
5. If any one shall have struck a man so that blood falls to the floor, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
6. But if a freeman strike a freeman with his fist so that blood does not flow, be shall be sentenced for each blow — up to 3 blows — to 120 denars, which make 3 shillings.
Title XVIII. Concerning him who, before the King, accuses an innocent Man.
If any one, before the king, accuse an innocent man who is absent, he shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
Title XIX. Concerning Magicians.
1. If any one have given herbs to another so that he die, he shall be sentenced to 200 shillings (or shall surely be given over to fire).
2. If any person have bewitched another, and he who was thus treated shall escape, the author of the crime. who is proved to have committed it, shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
Title XXIV. Concerning the Killing of little children and women.
1. If anyone have slain a boy under 10 years — up to the end of the tenth — and it shall have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
3. If any one have hit a free woman who is pregnant, and she dies, he shall be sentenced to 28000 denars, which make 700 shillings.
6. If any one have killed a free woman after she has begun bearing children, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
7. After she can have no more children, he who kills her shall be sentenced to 8000 denars, which make 200 shillings.
Title XXX. Concerning Insults.
3. If any one, man or woman, shall have called a woman harlot, and shall not have been able to prove it, he shall be sentenced to 1800 denars, which make 45 shillings.
4. If any person shall have called another “fox,” he shall be sentenced to 3 shillings.
5. If any man shall have called another “hare,” he shall be sentenced to 3 shillings.
6. If any man shall have brought it up against another that he have thrown away his shield, and shall not have been able to prove it, he shall be sentenced to 120 denars, which make 3 shillings.
7. If any man shall have called another “spy” or “perjurer,” and shall not have been able to prove it, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
Title XXXIII. Concerning the Theft of hunting animals.
2. If any one have stolen a tame marked stag (-hound?), trained to hunting, and it shall have been proved through witnesses that his master had him for hunting, or had killed with him two or three beasts, he shall be seutenced to 1800 denars, which make 46 shillings.
Title XXXIV. Concerning the Stealing of Fences.
1. If any man shall have cut 3 staves by which a fence is bound or held together, or have stolen or cut the heads of 3 stakes, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
2. If any one shall have drawn a harrow through another’s harvest after it has sprouted, or shall have gone through it with a waggon where there was no road, he shall be sentenced to 120 denars, which make 3 shillings.
3. If any one shall have gone, where there is no way or path, through another’s harvest which has already become thick, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
Title XLI. Concerning the Murder of Free Men.
1. If any one shall have killed a free Frank, or a barbarian living under the Salic law, and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 8000 denars.
2. But if he shall have thrown him into a well or into the water, or shall have covered him with branches or anything else, to conceal him, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
3. But if any one has slain a man who is in the service of the king, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
4. But if he have put him in the water or in a well, and covered him with anything to conceal him, he shall be sentenced to 72000 denars, which make 1800 shillings.
5. If any one have slain a Roman who eats in the king’s palace, and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 12000 denars, which make 300 shillings.
6. But if the Roman shall not have been a landed proprietor and table companion of the king, he who killed him shall be sentenced to 4000 denars, which make 100 shillings.
7. But if he shall have killed a Roman who was obliged to pay tribute, he sliall be sentenced to 63 shillings.
9. If any one have thrown a free man into a well, and he have escaped alive, he (the criminal) shall be sentenced to 4000 denars, which make 100 shillings.
Title XLV. Concerning Migrators.
1 . If any one wish to migrate to another village and if one or more who live in that village do not wish to receive him, — if there be only one who objects, he shall not have leave to move there.
2. But if he shall have presumed to settle in that village in spite of his rejection by one or two men, then some one shall give him warning. And if he be unwilling to go away, he who gives him warning shall give him warning with witnesses, as follows: I warn thee that thou may’st remain here this next night as the Salic law demands, and I warn thee that within 10 nights thou shalt go forth from this village. After another 10 nights he shall again come to him and warn him again within 10 nights to go away. If he still refuse to go, again 10 nights shall be added to the command, that the number of 30 nights may be full. If he will not go aAvay even then, then he shall summer, him to the “Thing,” and present his witnesses as to the separate commands to leave. If he who has been warned will not then move away, and no valid reason detains him, and all the above warnings which we have mentioned have been given according to law: then he who gave him warning shall take the matter into his own hands and request the “comes” to go to that place and expel him. And because he would not listen to the law, that man shall relinquish all that he has earned there, and, besides, shall be sentenced to 1200 denars, which make 30 shillings.
3. But if anyone have moved there, and within 12 months no one have given him warning, he shall remain as secure as the other neighbours.
Title XLVI. Concerning Transfers of Property.
1. The observance shall be that the Thunginus or Centenarius shall call together a “Thing,” and shall have his shield in the “Thing,” and shall demand three men as witnesses for each of the three transactions. He (the owner of the land to be transferred) shall seek a man who has no connection with himself, and shall throw a stalk into his lap. And to him into whose lap he has thrown the stalk he shall tell, concerning his property, how much of it — or whether the whole or a half — he wishes to give. He in whose lap he threw the stalk shall remain in his (the owner’s) house, and shall collect three or more guests, and shall have the property — as much as is given him — in his power. And, afterwards, he to whom that property is entrusted shall discuss all these things with the witnesses collected afterwards, either before the king or in the regular “Thing,” he shall give the property up to him for whom it was intended. He shall take the stalk in the “Thing,” and, before 12 months are over, shall throw it into the lap of him whom the owner has named heir; and he shall restore not more nor less, but exactly as much as was entrusted to him.
2. And if any one shall wish to say anything against this, three sworn witnesses shall say that they were in the “Thing” which the “Thunginus” or “Centenarius” called together, and that they saw that man who wished to give his property throw a stalk into the lap of him whom he had selected. They shall name by name him who threw his property into the lap of the other, and, likewise, shall name him whom he named his heir. And three other sworn witnesses shall say that he in whose lap the stalk was thrown had remained in the house of him who gave his property, and had there collected three or more guests, and that they had eaten porridge at table, and that he had collected those who were bearing witness, and that those guests had thanked him for their entertainment. All this those other sworn witnesses shall say, and that he who received that property in his lap in the “Thing” held before the king, or in the regular public “Thing,” did publicly, before the people, either in the presence of the king or in public “Thing” — namely on the Mallberg, before the “Thunginus” — throw the stalk into the lap of him whom the owner had named as heir. And thus 9 witnesses shall confirm all this.
Title L. Concerning Promises to Pay.
1. If any freeman or leet have made to another a promise to pay, then lie to whom the promise was made shall, within 40 days or within such term as was agreed when he made the promise, go to the house of that man with witnesses, or with appraisers. And if he (the debtor) be unwilling to make the promised payment, he shall be sentenced to 15 shillings above the debt which he had promised.
2. If he then be unwilling to pay, he (the creditor) shall summon him before the “Thing” and thus accuse him: “I ask thee, ‘Thunginus,’ to bann my opponent who made me a promise to pay and owes me a debt.” And he shall state how much he owes and promised to pay. Then the “Thunginus” shall say: “I bann thy opponent to what the Salic law decrees.” Then he to whom the promise was made shall warn him (the debtor) to make no payment or pledge of payment to any body else until he have fulfilled his promise to him (the creditor). And straightway on that same day, before the sun sets, he shall go to the house of that man with witnesses, and shall ask if he will pay that debt. If he will not, he (the creditor) shall wait until after sunset; then, if he have waited until after sunset, 120 denars, which make 3 shillings shall be added on to the debt. And this shall be done up to 3 times in 3 weeks. And if at the third time he will not pay all this, it (the sum) shall increase to 360 denars, or 9 shillings: so, namely, that, after each admonition or waiting until after sunset, 3 shillings shall be added to the debt.
3. If any one be unwilling to fulfil his promise in the regular assembly, — then he to whom the promise was made shall go the count of that place, in whose district he lives, and shall take the stalk and shall say: oh count, that man made me a promise to pay, and I have lawfully summoned him before the court according to the Salic law on this matter; I pledge thee myself and my fortune that thou may’st safely seize his property. And he shall state the case to him, and shall tell how much he (the debtor) had agreed to pay. Then the count shall collect 7 suitable bailiffs, and shall go with them to the house of him who made the promise and shall say: thou who art here present pay voluntarily to that man what thou didst promise. and choose any two of those bailiffs who shall appraise that from which thou shalt pay; and make good what thou dost owe, according to a just appraisal. But if he will not hear, or be absent, then the bailiff’s shall take from his property the value of the debt which he owes. And, according to the law, the accuser shall take two thirds of that which the debtor owes, and the count shall collect for himself the other third as peace money; unless the peace money shall have been paid to him before in this same matter.
4. If the count have been appealed to, and no sufficient reason, and no duty of the king, have detained him — and if he have put off going, and have sent no substitute to demand law and justice: he shall answer for it with his life, or shall redeem himself with his “wergeld.”
Title LIV. Concerning the Slaying of a Count.
1. If any one slay a count, he shall be sentenced to 2400 denars, which make 600 shillings.
Title LV. Concerning the Plundering of Corpses.
2. If any one shall have dug up and plundered a corpse already buried, and it shall have been proved on him, he shall be outlawed until the day when he comes to an agreement with the relatives of the dead man, and they ask for him that he be allowed to come among men. And whoever, before he come to an arrangement with the relative, shall give him bread or shelter — even if they are his relations or his own wife — shall be sentenced to 600 denars which make xv shillings.
3. But he who is proved to have committed the crime shall be sentenced to 8000 denars, which make 200 shillings.
Title LVI. Concerning him who shall have scorned to come to Court.
1. If any man shall have scorned, to come to court, and shall have put off fulfilling the injunction of the bailiffs, and shall not have been willing to consent to undergo the fine, or the kettle ordeal, or anything prescribed by law: then he (the plaintiff) shall summon him to the presence of the king. And there shall be 12 witnesses who — 3 at a time being sworn — shall testify that they were present when the bailiff enjoined, him (the accused) either to go to the kettle ordeal, or to agree concerning the fine; and that he had scorned the injunction. Then 3 others shall swear that they were there on the day when the bailiffs enjoined that he should free himself by the kettle ordeal or by composition; and that 40 days after that, in the “mallberg,” he (the accuser) had again waited until after sunset, and that he (the accused) would not obey the law. Then he (the accuser) shall summon him before the king for a fortnight thence; and three witnesses shall swear that they were there when he summoned him and when he waited for sunset. If he does not then come, those 9, being sworn, shall give testimony as we have above explained. On that day likewise, if he do not come, he (the accuser) shall let the sim go down on him, and shall have 3 witnesses who shall be there when he waits till sunset. But if the accuser shall have fulfilled all this, and the accused shall not have been willing to come to any court, then the king, before whom he has been summoned, shall withdraw his protection from him. Then he shall be guilty, and all his goods shall belong to the fisc, or to him to whom the fisc may wish to give them. lA.nd whoever shall have fed or housed him — even if it were his own wife — shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings; until he (the debtor) shall have made good all that has been laid to his charge.
Title LVII. Concerning the “Chrenecruda.”
1. If any one have killed a man, and, having given up all his property, has not enough to comply with the full terms of the law, he shall present 12 sworn witnesses to the effect that, neither above the earth nor under it, has he any more property than he has already given. And he shall afterwards go into his house, and shall collect in his hand dust from the four corners of it, and shall afterwards stand upon the threshold, looking inwards into the house. And then, with his left hand, he shall throw over his shoulder some of that dust on the nearest relative that he has. But if his father and (his father’s) brothers have already paid, he shall then throw that dust on their (the brothers’) children — that is, over three (relatives) who are nearest on the father’s and three on the mother’s side. And after that, in his shirt, without girdle and without shoes, a staff in his hand, he shall spring over the hedge. And then those three shall pay half of what is lacking of the compounding money or the legal fine; that is, those others who are descended in the paternal line shall do this.
2. But if there be one of those relatives who has not enough to pay his whole indebtedness, he, the poorer one, shall in turn throw the “chrenecruda” on him of them who has the most, so that he shall pay the whole fine.
3. But if he also have not enough to pay the whole, then he who has charge of the murderer shall bring him before the “Thing,” and afterwards to 4 Things, in order that they (his friends) may take him under their protection. And if no one have taken him under his protection — that is, so as to redeem him for what he can not pay — then he shall have to atone with his life.
Title LIX. Concerning private Property.
1. If any man die and leave no sons, if the father and mother survive, they shall inherit.
3. If the father and mother do not survive, and he leave brothers or sisters, they shall inherit.
3. But if there are none, the sisters of the father shall inherit.
4. But if there are no sisters of the father, the sisters of the mother shall claim that inheritance.
5. If there are none of these, the nearest relatives on the father’s side shall succeed to that inheritance.
6. But of Salic land no portion of the inheritance shall come to a woman: but the whole inheritance of the land shall come to the male sex.
Title LXII. Concerning Wergeld.
1. If any one’s father have been killed, the sons shall have half the compounding money (wergeld); and the other half the nearest relatives, as well on the mother’s as on the father’s side, shall divide among themselves.
2. But if there are no relatives, paternal or maternal that portion shall go to the fisc.
SOURCE: Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages (1892) by Ernest Flagg Henderson
Note: Original document is in Latin mixed with Germanic words