The law as such dates from very ancient times and there have been many scholars who have contributed greatly in different laws that are maintained today. So, the law has played a fundamental role in various eras of humanity. For this reason, in this installment we will address what is related to Law in the Middle Ages.
As a general culture, it is advisable to know about law issues, but if you are one of those who are thinking of choosing a career in insurance law, this article will interest you.
Also, if you are one of the professionals in the area, it is worth refreshing your knowledge.
Table of Contents.
Concepts of Law and the Middle Ages
To understand a little better the dynamics of Law in the Middle Ages we must be clear about the concepts.
We will begin with the definition of Law, In this regard Kelsen mentions the following:
“Law is a normative ordering of human behavior, it is a system of norms that regulate behavior”
Middle Ages concept
“The Middle Ages or Middle Ages is the historical period of Western civilization between the 5th and 15th centuries. Its beginning is in the year 476, the year of the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and its end in 1492, the year in which Columbus arrived in America. This is the most widespread temporal division, but it is also dated as the final year of the Middle Ages 1453 “
Concept of Law in the Middle Ages
Saint Augustine (354-430 AD)
“In the vast space of time that we call the Middle Ages, there was no independent theory about the idea of justice, which was not identified with the divine precepts transmitted by the Bible and by other sources of ecclesiastical doctrine”
Once both concepts are clear, it will be easier for us to understand what’s the Law in the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages
Medieval Times or The Middle Ages as it is also known is the stage between the civilizations of Greece, Rome and the civilization of Modern Europe.
The Middle Ages comprised a period from the 5th to the 15th century of the Christian era.
This is the reason for the name of this epoch in world history. That is why it is called the “Middle Ages”.
Well, it was in the middle of those two civilizations. Middle Ages began in the 5th century until the dispersion of the Western Roman Empire when the fall of Constantinople originated in the 15th century.
The Middle Ages is divided into two major stages: the High Middle Ages and the Low Middle Ages.
The Upper Middle Ages goes from the formation of the Germanic kingdoms to the consolidation of feudalism (9th and 12th centuries).
While the Lower Middle Ages until the 15th century, which was determined by the development of the metropolises, the geographical expansion, and the prosperity of trade.
All the progress of the Middle Ages is based on three important elements:
- The representation of Greco-Latin antiquity
- The contribution of the Germanic peoples who invaded all the lands
- Finally, the Christian religion.
Law in the Middle Ages
It is extremely interesting to see the dynamics of cultures and their points of view. So in the Middle Ages the nomadic Germans came with their own Right.
This caused certain conflicts since the Romans had their own laws and a whole instituted civilization.
To provide a viable solution to this situation, a personal legal system was created. This new system dictated that each town would have its own law.
In this way they did not clash and had to respect the laws of each town to achieve harmony and good coexistence.
As a consequence of the above, two new cultures were formed that grew similar at the same time and place.
Undoubtedly, what happened to the Law in the Middle Ages was a unique situation.
German Laws in the Middle Ages – Law in the Middle Ages
To have an organized society, we need laws that provide for human behavior and other important aspects. That is why the barbarian kings devoted themselves to writing the German laws.
Next, we mention the Germanic laws created in the Middle Ages:
- Lex Barbarorum
- Lex Visigotorum (Eurico Code)
- Lombard Law
- Finally, Lex Alamanorum (Law of the Alamanes)
At the same time, the Roman laws were compiled, among which the most famous was the Code of Alaric, which presided over many parts of Europe.
Due to this dynamic of coexistence of parallelism of laws, a system called Professio Juris had to be created.
The Professio Juris had the power for people to decide under which law they were going to rule, and it was mandatory in the Middle Ages.
In the practice of justice, it was up to the Judge. This was the one who should consult the Roman texts or the customs of the Germanic peoples, depending on which one it corresponded to.
Another element that should be considered is that the judge should consult the provisions or precepts of the barbarian kings.
The Law in the Middle Ages had the singularity of parallelism of laws, which implies that the judges should have knowledge of all the Roman and Germanic laws.
This system remained until the institution of the feudal regime in Europe.
The feudal system
The Debt or Feudalism System was established in a system of Vassal and Fiefdom. This is also understood as a legal-political relationship on the one hand and as an economic-social relationship.
Feudal systems consisted of the king granting fiefdoms to his subjects, in this case nobles.
As the countries of Europe gain strength, they recognize the King as lord and superior authority, however, he had restricted powers.
The main leaders of the King’s army were his delegates, who had been conquering the main areas of the country. Furthermore, the King left his authority in the hands of these delegates in those territories.
These people trusted by the king were those who became the owner and had the power to defend that right because they had weapons to defend themselves at a certain time.
According to the territories these men were called Count, Duke or Marques, these being noble titles decreed by the King.
The rest of the population needed them to protect them and the King always required them to exercise sovereignty in his name.
This lieutenant or delegate was initially assigned that position temporarily. Later, he acquired a permanent right and then his descendants were the only ones who acquired the position.
The Justinian Code
With the appearance of the Crusades, the Justinian Code spread throughout Europe, which with legal supremacy contributed greatly to ending the legal anarchy that prevailed in Europe.
An interest in Law arises and the first schools of legislation appear and in Bologna the school of “glossers” arises. These glossers were jurists dedicated to interpreting the Justinian Code.
The “post-glossers” were those who extended the scope of the Code. This current stimulates the study of Law throughout that continent, spreading the code in all countries.
All this flourishing of law is known as “Reception of Roman Law” and its dominance is conclusive in shaping the law of nations.
Finally, the Law in the Middle Ages is unique since the authorities had to know enough about Roman and Germanic law.
Consolidation of the role of state as an order factor.
During the Middle Ages the foundations were laid for international law, the definition of borders and nations and some concepts such as sovereignty that would be questioned during the renaissance.
The power of the church would be consolidated and at the same time would provoke the idea of a new differentiated legality of religion. Definitely an interesting period for laws and law