CFP Tabletop Gaming the Medieval World – Extended Deadline: 31 August 2022

I’m delighted to say that the call for papers listed in my previous post, for an edited collection on Tabletop Gaming in the Medieval World: Reception, Education and Adaptation has been quite well received. As it stands, I currently have six chapters addressing different aspects of both miniature gaming and roleplay gaming, and it already looks to be a promising collection.

However, I’m re-circulating the CFP with an extended deadline of Wednesday 31 August 2022 (and an extended date for the submission of completed chapters to October 2023, and explicit mention of the discipline of Folklore which I am embarassed to say that I accidentally omitted before).

In case there any other contributors that would be interested in joining?! Here is a link to the revised cfp. And the text of it is as follows:

Call for papers for an edited collection on

Tabletop Gaming the Medieval World

Reception, Education and Adaptation

edited by Thom Gobbitt

EXTENDED SUBMISSION DEADLINE – 31 AUGUST 2022

The medieval past is frequently taken as the inspiration for the settings of tabletop role play and miniature games. These games bring together a group of interested participants (players), who may have varying degrees of knowledge – both popular and/or scholarly – about the medieval past. Such games are (usually) grounded in rule books that outline mechanics for arbitrating the game or story being told, while also presenting contextual information on the specifics of the thematic setting. Consequently, tabletop games provide an opportunity to inform on the medieval past and push back against misconceptions. Conversely, if information on medieval sources and settings employed in role play and miniature games is not examined critically, then the games may instead reinforce misinformation and misconceptions.

Contributions for an edited collection are sought which address the incorporation and appropriation of the medieval past into tabletop gaming systems and settings. Contributions grounded in any discipline(s) addressing the medieval past are welcome, including but not limited to archaeology, anthropology, art history, folklore, history, history of medicine and science, law & legal history, linguistics, literature, manuscript-studies, numismatics, philosophy, politics, theology, etc. The collection intends to bring together studies extending across the medieval world, and spanning the long thousand years from roughly the fifth to the fifteenth centuries. Contributions may focus closely on the incorporation into game-settings of a specific time, place or set of historical events within the medieval period, or else look more broadly at comparative settings or examine approaches taken in tabletop games to themes and categories of social-identification, such as disability, ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality, slavery, etc.

Three main threads are envisaged for the proposed chapters:

  • the reception of the medieval past in role-play games and miniature games.
  • the educational potential and pitfalls of tabletop games for informing and inspiring participants about the medieval past, and direct independent learning and engagement with medieval source materials and modern scholarship.
  • the adaptation of specific medieval source materials and settings as resources for gaming-groups to provide the plot-hooks, scenarios and campaigns.

Abstracts of 250-500 words along with a short biographical note should be sent to thomas.gobbitt@oeaw.ac.at, in English, by Wednesday 31 August 2022.

Submission of accepted chapters, of 6000-9000 words including footnotes, are provisionally anticipated for October 2023.

CFP Tabletop Gaming the Medieval World

I’m pleased to announce a call for papers for a proposed edited collection on the representation of the medieval past in tabletop role play and miniature games. A pdf of the call for papers can be found here: Click to access cfp-gobbitt-tabletop-gaming-the-medieval-world.pdf and the full text reads as follows:

The medieval past is frequently taken as the inspiration for the settings of tabletop role play and miniature games. These games bring together a group of interested participants (players), who may have varying degrees of knowledge – both popular and/or scholarly – about the medieval past. Such games are (usually) grounded in rule books that outline mechanics for arbitrating the game or story being told, while also presenting contextual information on the specifics of the thematic setting. Consequently, tabletop games provide an opportunity to inform on the medieval past and push back against misconceptions. Conversely, if information on medieval sources and settings employed in role play and miniature games is not examined critically, then the games may instead reinforce misinformation and misconceptions.

Contributions for an edited collection are sought which address the incorporation and appropriation of the medieval past into tabletop gaming systems and settings. Contributions grounded in any discipline(s) addressing the medieval past are welcome, including but not limited to archaeology, anthropology, art history, history, history of medicine and science, law & legal history, linguistics, literature, manuscript-studies, numismatics, philosophy, politics, theology, etc. The collection intends to bring together studies extending across the medieval world, and spanning the long thousand years from roughly the fifth to the fifteenth centuries. Contributions may focus closely on the incorporation into game-settings of a specific time, place or set of historical events within the medieval period, or else look more broadly at comparative settings or examine approaches taken in tabletop games to themes and categories of social-identification, such as disability, ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality, slavery, etc.

Three main threads are envisaged for the proposed chapters:

  • the reception of the medieval past in role-play games and miniature games.
  • the educational potential and pitfalls of tabletop games for informing and inspiring participants about the medieval past, and direct independent learning and engagement with medieval source materials and modern scholarship.
  • the adaptation of specific medieval source materials and settings as resources for gaming-groups to provide the plot-hooks, scenarios and campaigns.

Abstracts of 250-500 words along with a short biographical note should be sent to thomas.gobbitt@oeaw.ac.at, in English, by Sunday 31 July 2022.

Submission of accepted chapters, of 6000-9000 words including footnotes, are provisionally anticipated for August 2023.

Transcription of Glosses, Vienna MS Cod. 394

A short post, as it has been well over a year and a half since I updated this blog… and, Happy New year to all!

As part of my StadtWien three month project (Summer 2020) focusing on Vienna, MS Cod. 394, I prepared transcripts of the glosses found throughout the manuscript. I’ve been taking the opportunity to work a little more on the drafts and make them available here. Edit: I have now uploaded draft transcriptions of the glosses for the Lombarda Vulgata, which can be found as a pdf here:

These are still very provisional, and as can be seen a few bits remain to be checked against the manuscript directly, as they aren’t quite legible on the images, and I’ve also tended to prioritise the older scribal hands. In addition to correcting transcription errors, the next phases for expanding this draft transcription will include: 1) transcribing the interlinear glosses also, 2) identification of contributing scribal hands, and 3) checking the glosses against the published editions of commentaries to the Liber Papiensis and, particularly, the Lombarda.

Vienna, Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek MS Cod. 394 – Lombarda with glosses

With my last major research project having finished at the end of April 2020 (although research continues, as ever), I applied for and was fortunate enough to get a small Stadt-Wien stipendium for researchers and artists in the covid-19 times. In my application I outlined a three-month research project, which began at the start of May following the award of the stipend (project No. MA 7-355810/2020), and is now two-thirds of the way through. The project focuses on one of the manuscripts of the Lombard laws held in the Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek [ÖNB, Austrian National Library]: Vienna, MS Cod. 394. The manuscript comprises a copy of the Lombarda, that is a systemisation according to of the Liber Papiensis collection of Lombard law sand Frankish and Saxon capitularies relating to Italy.

In addition to identifying – and where possible obtaining and reading up! – secondary literature on the manuscript, I had four main objectives:

  1. To write up my notes from a viewing of the manuscript made in 2012, and prepare a catalogue description to add to the (slowly growing) list of Lombard law-books here on my website.
  2. To work from the black and white scans of the microfilm, to map out the contents and, particularly, investigate the glossing strategy employed throughout the manuscript.
  3. To prepare an article relating to the manuscript for submission to a relevant journal. The initial proposal anticipated a comparative study of this manuscript and another also held in the ÖNB, MS Cod. 471 – one of the manuscripts of the Liber Papiensis on which my previous FWF Lise Meitner project had focused (and for which the monograph is currently under review).
  4. To deepen my familiarity with the Lombarda variant of the Lombard laws overall, and to further refine my research methodology in preparation for submitting the next research project proposal.

Before considering progress on these four objectives, it may first be of interest to consider the manuscript as a whole. The description of Vienna, MS Cod. 394 as given on the ÖNB website is minimal. At the present time the manuscript has not been digitised, so there is no link to images unlike for other manuscripts. The contents and title of the manuscript are given simply as “Lex Langobardorum cum glossis” [law of the Lombards with glosses], without mentioning which version of the laws it contains, nor the other item added on the final folio, the prologue and first clauses of Ariprand’s Commentary on the Lombarda, composed in the mid-twelfth century (see Anschütz, 1855).

The description on the ÖNB website also does not include either a date for the manuscript’s production or a place of origin, so for this study I was very much beginning in the dark. In the nineteenth century, the manuscript was included in Johannes Merkel’s Die Geschichte des Langobardenrechts (1850) as item No. ‘L2’, and as one of the sources for the MGH edition of the Lombarda, as edited by Friedrich Bluhme (1868). In both these studies the version of the text is identified (and in the latter edited) as the ‘vulgate’ version of the Lombarda, but with no place of origin being suggested for the manuscript. Both, however, gave a date for the production as s. xiiin, that is early in the twelfth century (ca. 1100-1120), which would have numbered it amongst the oldest of the surviving manuscripts of the Lombarda.

Having asked palaeographers online whether they agreed with the dating, Dr Beatriz Porres de Mateo identified the script as being, despite its many oddities and some gothic and caroline features, a late Beneventan minuscule. She kindly directed me towards some more recent relevant scholarship, many of which had mentioned the manuscript in passing, and included date ranges from the mid-twelfth to early thirteenth centuries (Vitolo, 1992; Cordasco, 1996; Magistrale, 1995) and localised the manuscript to in or around Bari, southern Italy. This in turn brought me to E. A. Lowe’s study of Beneventan scripts (1914), where he had identified the manuscript as being of the Bari type and drew attention to a later addition on the verso of the final folio that named Abbot Guglielmo di Macciacotta from Bari as a sometime owner of the law-book. Another addition on the lower margin of the same folio (96r), reads ‘Maurus Iudicis Iohanis’, suggesting that over the years the law-book had had connections with both monastic centres and legal professionals.

 

Project Outcomes (ongoing)

A catalogue description of the manuscript (v. 0.2) has been prepared, and is now available online (per project objective 1). The description is somewhat provisional, and will require a further viewing in the ÖNB to gather more specific information (the dimensions of the folios and ruling grid are representative, taken from a smaller number of measurements, rather than averages derived from measurements from every single folio), Edit: and while my original notes refer to the different ink colours employed, they are not comprehensive. I now have access to colour images of the manuscript, and have revised and updated the description accordingly. The linked file is now version 0.2). As such, I hope to augment and emend the description in the future, as necessary. Nevertheless, I hope the description in its current form will be of use!

Cataloguing the contents of the manuscript (objective 2) was an intensive process, in which a table was produced matching the numbered clauses per Bluhme’s edition (1868) to the specific contents of the manuscript, and then adding in transcriptions of glosses in the margins (sometimes just the incipits), for all items copied by the main scribal hands responsible for the initial production phases of the manuscript in the (early) thirteenth century – that is the main scribe (Hand 1), the rubricator (Hand 2), and the scribe of the Ariprand commentary (Hand 3). In addition to commentaries on the legal content and glosses clarifying in Latin what the specific langobardic legal terms meant, one of the main forms of gloss comprise cross-references to related laws and capitularies within the law-book. These cross-references are made, using the same fundamental strategy as employed in the Liber Papiensis and as adopted in Roman law-books following the mid-twelfth century juristic revival – by law-giver and incipit of the clause in question. Where possible I have identified the referenced clause, and begun to visualise – if not unravel – the web of intratextual references being made in the manuscript.

In the process of recording the glosses, my attention got drawn to the legal theme from Book I, Title XXXVI: de culpis servorum [concerning the crimes of enslaved people], in which eight laws and capitularies from Rothari, Grimoald, Liutprand and Charlemagne are brought together into a thematic block. Further study of these legal texts in their manuscript context, and extending the comparison out to other manuscripts of the Liber Papiensis and of the Lombarda, seem to be promising. Consequently, this will be the theme for the article that I am currently preparing (objective 3).

Connections to – and diversions from – the other manuscripts are also becoming apparent, although these will definitely require the extensive focus of a full research project to truly visualise in manuscript and socio-legal context. In this the initial study has identified, refined and developed the scope of the next project proposal and its methodology as intended (objective 4), while the close analysis of a selected legal-theme in manuscript context is similarly establishing a working method for comparable case-studies that I hope to integrate into the next project. I hope that the coming months and years will give me the opportunity to further discuss and share this on a broader and deeper scale.

 


Bibliography

Anschütz, August, ed., Die Lombarda Commentare des Ariprand und Albertus: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des germanischen Rechts im zwölften Jahrhundert (Heidelberg: Akademische Verlargshandlung von J. C. B. Mohr, 1855)

Bluhme, Frederick, ed., ‘In Lombardae Libro et Reliqua Praefatus est’ & ‘Legis Longobardorum Libri Tres Sive Syntagmata Duo, Lombardo Vulga Dicta, Ex Libro Papiensi Confecta’, MGH Leges IV (Hannover: Hahn: 1868), xcviii-cxviii

Cordasco, Pasquale, Contributo allo Studio del Notariato Meridionale (Secoli XII-XIV) (Bari: Levante, 1996)

Lowe, Elias Avery, The Beneventan Script: A History of the South Italian Minuscule (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914)

Magistrale, Francesco, ‘La cultura scritta latina e greca: libri, documenti, iscrizioni’, in Federico II: immagine e potere. Catalogo della mostra (Bari, Castello Svevo, 4 febbraio – 17 aprile 1995), edited by Maria Stella Calò Mariani and Raffaella Cassano (Venice: Marsilio, 1995), 125-41

Merkel, Johannes, Die Geschichte des Langobardenrechts (Berlin: Hertz, 1850)

Reynalds, Roger E., ‘Gratian’s Decretum and the Code of Justinian in Beneventan Script’, Mediaeval Studies 58 (1996), 285-88

Vitolo, Raffaele, ‘Tra Cava e Salerno: cultura e scrittura in età normanno-sveva’, Rassegna storica salernitana 18 (1992), 7-24

To whom do the Lombard laws apply?

The following short post began as a reply to a query, regarding if the Lombard laws identify to whom they are applicable. This is only a brief summary and there is much more literature available, from a range of academic disciplines, but as the subject of how to become a Lombard is addressed in occasional clauses, referring to the primary evidence here may be of use – and hopefully interest too! Edit (August 2020): In response to a comment asking for some further clarification, I’ve expanded this blogpost somewhat, the new additions are in this red/brown colour.

The most important clause on this, is probably Edictus Rothari, No. 367 which addresses the subject or waregang that is ‘foreigners’. Specifically, the clause begins with the statement that:

All foreigners who come from outside our frontiers into the boundaries of our kingdom and yield to the jurisdiction of our power ought to live according to the Lombard laws, unless through our grace they have merited another law.

Rothari, No. 367 (643 CE)

Fischer-Drew, trans., The Lombard Laws, pp. 124-25

The clause then continues that the same should be true of their children. Here, then, the law is pretty clear that the applicability of the law-code is primarily territorial. Concessions can be made for people to be within the boundaries under a different law, but the impression given here is very much that this is a rare occurrence rather than normal.

Other clauses within the Edictus Rothari emphasise the frontiers and boundary as a political and territorial one, for instance Nos 3-5 on fleeing outside the country, or inviting enemies or spies into the territory, respectively. And laws by later kings add to the sense of territoriality, such as those dealing with permissions for travellers passing through as pilgrims on their way to Rome (Ratchis, No. 13, in 746 AD).

Another method of gaining – or losing – a Lombard identity is through marriage, in which a woman joins the social group of her new husband. This is referred to in Liutprand, No. 127, which was issued in 731 AD. While it could be read as a later emendation to the legal system, the clause is explicitly about re-marriage and without consent of the deceased previous husband’s heirs, and takes the change of a woman’s ethnic/legal identity as an established legal norm.

A law of the Lombard king Liutprand, issued in 727 adds some further insight here into the presence of multiple laws (Roman and Lombard), although it is less clear on the interplay between them. And, again, it doesn’t define who is a Roman or a Lombard, neatly or otherwise, because as can be seen that doesn’t fit with the way the socio-legal contexts the law is responding to and developing. The law begins:

In the case of scribes, we decree that those who prepare charters should write them either according to the law of the Lombards – which is well known to be open to all – or according to that of the Romans; they shall not do otherwise than is contained in these laws and they shall not write contrary to the law of the Lombards or of the Romans…

Liutprand, No. 91: Fischer-Drew, trans., The Lombard Laws, p. 183.

That certainly suggests legal pluralism at play. This is sometimes taken to imply that people could use one law or the other, but the two couldn’t overlap. However, the law itself doesn’t actually say that they couldn’t be mixed, just that each had to be used correctly. And there’s a strong sense that (post) Roman law – more as local customs and practice than the codified form – came in to fill the gaps that Lombard law didn’t cover, such as details on landownership. Another major place where we have Roman law being employed is in relation to the church and church property.  There is already mixing of the legal systems in the eighth century (Pohl-Resl, 1998; Pohl, 2002: 24), and by the tenth century we can see deliberate and active integration of elements drawn from both Roman and Lombard law in individual documents. (There’s a chapter by Sonia Colafrancesco that goes into this in fine analytical detail in my forthcoming edited collection, Law Book Culture in the Middle Ages, that will hopefully be in print in 2021).

The laws themselves then, don’t explicitly identify who or what makes a Lombard. Legally it seems primarily to be territorial and opt in. If a person wants to live within the territory, then under normal circumstances they should adopt the Lombard legal and cultural norms and become one. The laws are one of the strategies used actively to create and reinforce a Lombard identity. Beyond the expectation that the children of a man who becomes a Lombard should also be Lombards and live by Lombard laws (Edictus Rothari, No. 367), there is no sense of it being primarily tied to some kind of ancestral heritage. Instead, being able to identify one’s ancestors as presented in the laws is only relevant for establishing social class (and the right to inherit) within the Lombard social structure itself.

Within the broader studies on ethnogenesis and identity, this socio-legal approach is again apparent: gentis [peoples, for want of a better word] are social identities, consciously built on shared experiences and decisions to work together. Rather than the Lombards being defined on a single biological ancestry, they instead seem to comprise threads drawn from multiple family and ‘tribal’ (again for want of a better word) groups. In the earlier times, becoming a Lombard then is a matter of participating in the Lombard consensus, and at some point between that group invading and settling in (northern) Italy in the sixth century, and the writing of the Edictus Rothari in the mid-seventh century, that group further extended the legal applicability into a territorial setting.

The laws, then, do not include a core definition of who counted as a Lombard, not because it was omitted, but because it made no sense in the historical contexts of the early medieval period in which they were produced and used. The evidence in the laws itself, then, supports the modern critically-informed directions that more recent academic arguments have been uncovering and establishing, and which have not only rejected the nationalist interpretations that prevailed in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, but more importantly have refuted and disproved them. This is unsurprising, of course, as the modern arguments have been derived from the primary sources, and with increased resources. Rather than needing to ‘go back to the sources’ to unravel the complexities of the modern understanding and image of the early medieval period, Likewise, the development of further technological, theoretical and methodological toolkits for analysis has allowed the continuing refinement of modern understanding. Moreover, these fit into an increasingly inter-disciplinary approaches, and have been corroborated with a much wider and more detailed range of disciplinary approaches, in particular archaeology and, more recently, through genetic studies of ancient DNA.

It’s long been known that within the Lombard regnum, there’s really no distinction between Roman and Lombards as ethnic groups by the end of the Lombard period – going back, at least, to Niccolò Machiavelli’s Istorie Fiorentine (published 1532). By then, the only thing strange about them was their name. A good point for seeing the interrelation can be found with “Paulus deaconus” [Paul the deacon], writer of the History of the Lombards, and born at some point in the 720s. As Walter Pohl notes, he was given a Roman name reflecting his ecclesiastical (and possibly also monastic) career, while his older brother, Arechi, had a ‘Lombard’ name (2002: 24). Naming as a means of creating ‘ethnic’ identification had clearly stopped by then.

Pohl’s provides a clear, informative and fair-handed analysis of the situation and state of research in the early twenty-first century (2002: 11-33). The clearest take away from the evidence is that the intermixture of both ‘groups’, as it were, occurred quickly, and that more importantly both groups were already very diverse. We also do not know what size the two groups were, but the idea of a small group of ethnically coherent Lombards and a large group of ethnic homogenous Romans has no foundations in the historical and archaeological evidence,. And ongoing aDNA studies are continuing to show how muddied that perspective already is. Considering how ethnically diverse Italy already was in the ale Roman period, this is unsurprising. And considering how ethnically diverse the various migrating/invading groups themselves were, the complexity again becomes apparent.

Quoting a large section of Pohl’s discussion that summarises the situation may be of interest and use here:

What happened to the Romans under Lombard rule? Many historians believe that Roman landowners were killed or driven into exile and that the Roman population was enslaved by the new lords. There is little evidence to support that interpretation. In the cities of the kingdom, church organization continued to function as before, and funerary inscriptions provide evidence of the survival of many well-to-do citizens and artisans. In the years after 568 the level of violence and raiding was high, but the Lombards had come to stay, and to do so they employed the existing infrastructures. Instead of a few tens of thousands of Lombards commanding millions of Roman slaves, we should think in terms of local societies that became ethnically mixed. The principal change was that the civil lay aristocracy disappeared, a change that was taking place in all western European countries. In the long run, only two models for the elite remained: that of the warrior-landowner claiming some prestigious barbarian identity, and that of the ‘Roman’ cleric. Roman landowners may also have decided to rise into the ranks of the Lombard aristocracy, although that is a process that is better documented for Frankish Gaul and Visigothic Spain. Others could seek protection by the bishop, donating their estates to the church and receiving them back as a permanent loan. roman traders and artisans continued in business and came to be protected by royal legislation (for instance the magistri commacini, the builders).

Pohl, Invasions and Ethnic Identity, 22-23 (my emphasis)

That the ‘Roman’ builders were already under Lombard law (Rothari, Nos 144 & 145, specifically focusing on responsibility for negligent deaths on the building site) by the time the Edictus was promulgated, less than a century after the Lombard migration/invasion into Italy stands as testament to how closely entwined these two groups had become. The Lombard laws may talk of Lombards and romans and Roman law, but there is clearly no direct mapping of ethnicity to law. The laws are territorial and situational, rather than personal and ethnic.

Thankfully, then, we can say that the world reflected in the Lombard laws is as multifaceted and complex as modern societies are. Within the laws it is clear that – assuming the opportunity to move into the territory or marry a Lombard – becoming a Lombard was really open to anyone, regardless of where they had first come from. Coupling that with Italy as not only on the route to Rome for travellers coming across the Alps, but also a nexus point within the Mediterranean as a whole, Lombards are probably better understood within an Afro-Eurasian context.


Bibliography

  • Colafrancesco, Sonia, “Juridical Dualism in Medieval Southern Italy: Studies on the Codex diplomaticus Cavensis“, in Law | Book | Culture in the Middle Ages, ed. by Thom Gobbitt (Leiden, [forthcoming]).
  • Fischer Drew, Katherine, The Lombard Laws (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1973) 
  • Pohl, Walter, “Invasions and Ethnic Identity”, in Italy in the Early Middle Ages, ed. by Cristina La Rocca, (Oxford, 2002), 11-33
  • Pohl-Resl, Brigette, “Legal Practice and Ethnic Identity in Lombard Italy”, in Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300-800, ed. by Walter Pohl and Helmut Reimitz (Leiden, 1998), 205-19

 

Putrid Water & Wedding Parties

Aistulf became king of the Lombards in 749 CE, following the abdication of the former king, Ratchis, his brother. Aistulf remained king up until his death in December 756. Throughout the course of his reign, he augmented the Lombard laws on two separate occasions, issuing nine clauses on 1 March 750 (Aistulf, Nos 1-9), and a further thirteen clauses in the fifth year of his reign, on 1 March 755 (Aistulf, Nos 10-22.  A further two clauses are also attributed to him, edited by Friedrich Bluhme as Aistulf Capitula Spuria, Nos 23 & 24. The clauses, presumably, reflect the various pressing socio-legal concerns of his day, with some augmenting and updating previous legislation or responded to cases that had been brought to the attention of the royal court as they were not easily resolvable. A content note may be required here, as some of the law clauses mentioned in this post involve violence and killing, abduction and forced marriages, including with young girls.

My focus here today is Aistulf No. 15, issued as part of the second legislative session in 755, which addresses the situation in which a group of ‘perverse men’ [perversi hominis] threw ‘polluted and unclean water’ [aquam sorditam et stercoral] over the wedding party bringing a bride to the wedding (Bluhme, ed., Edictus Langobardorum, 201; Fischer-Drew, trans., The Lombard Laws, 234). In addition to the skin-crawlingly icky contexts – surely something that should be drawn to the attention of Horrible Histories, and reflecting the soap opera of early medieval Lombard life – the broader legal details revealed in the clause are also of interest. This can be seen from the modern English translation of the clause:

It has been made known to us that when a number of men walked along with a wedding party [paranimpha et troctingis] that was taking a bride to her bridegroom certain per- verse men threw down polluted and unclean water upon them.

Since this evil has been committed in several different places, we decree, lest a breach of the peace [scandalum] or homicide occur from this cause, that if any freeman tries to do such a thing, he shall pay 900 solidi as composition, half to the king and half to [the woman’s] mundwald [legal guardian]. If they are men who belong to someone else and they do this thing without their lord’s consent, and if their lord dares to offer oath that the thing was not done at his desire or with his counsel or advice and thus clears himself: the slaves shall be handed over to [the woman’s] mundwald, and he may do with them as it pleases him. In this case their patron shall bear no further blame. But if their lord does not dare so to swear, he shall pay 900 solidi as composition, as read above.

Aistulf, No. 15

(Fischer-Drew, trans., The Lombard Laws, 234-35)

Firstly, the clause begins by noting that ‘It has been made known to us…’ reflecting the situation in which new clauses address some of the specific cases that have been brought before the king, presumably as they could not be resolved by iudices [judges] and other legal officials acting at a local level. This, in turn, reflects the campaign undertaken in the second decade of Liutprand’s legislation, in which resorting to local judgement and custom where the law-book had not yet addressed a given circumstances were actively prohibited. This theme is discussed in the prologues to the legislation of Liutprand’s thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth years (725-27 CE). As an aside it should be noted that this campaign may have been a little too successful, and the prologue to Liutprand’s legislation of the nineteenth year, has a somewhat weary tone as it refers to ‘Our clemency [being] constantly beseeched by the unceasing controversies of the superstitious and vain.’ (Fischer-Drew, trans., The Lombard Laws, 194).

Of particular interest here, though, is the further statement in the clause that, ‘Since this evil has been committed in several different places…’, meaning that this was not an isolated case brought before the royal court. Rather, it seems to have occurred on multiple occasions. Presumably the previous instances had been individually dealt with, until Aistulf and his advisors recognised that it was a more deep-rooted problem. The clause them takes particularly heavy measures to prevent it from occurring again in the future, and outlines the broader reasons for doing so within the logic and structure of honour and the violence of the faida [blood feud].

Restitution for this crime is set in the clause at the distinctly high price of 900 solidi. In a previous blogpost I gathered together many of the clauses from the Edictus Rothari in which composition of this value was set. It is, for instance, equal to the composition due for committing morth [murder], that is the ‘secret’ killing of a freeman or enslaved man or woman, in which some attempt was made to disguise the identity of the killer(s) and/or victim. It can be further contrasted with the openly admitted and public killing of another person, in which for an enslaved man or woman the value would be between sixteen and fifty solidi, depending on their specific duties and degree of training (Rothari, Nos 130-36). While Rothari does not give specific values for the ‘widrigild’ or ‘praetium’ [wergild, worth], of a freeman, in 724 Liutprand had set the values at 150 solidi for if he was without landless or 300 solidi if he was landed (Liutprand, No. 62). The nefariousness of murder is particularly apparent in the relative differences in composition required to offset the insult to honour, and to stop further revenge-violence from ensuing. Free women, it will be noted, are not included in this discussion. The reason firstly being that the open killing of a free woman or girl had already been set at 1200 solidi, (Rothari Nos 200-01), with no specific distinction being made for murder. As the general value for a secretive murder would have been lower than for an open killing, the reasons for excluding freewomen from the clause on morth seem apparent.

Other clauses addressing crimes committed against free women do, however, include a 900 solidi fine, including Rothari No. 26 for ‘wegworin’ that is (forcefully?) blocking the road against her; Rothari No. 186 abducting a woman and taking her unwillingly to wife; or Rothari No. 191, abducting a woman who is already betrothed. Liutprand, No. 12 had also set a fine of 900 solidi for betrothing or marrying a girl under the age of twelve. In this, then, the values given in Aistulf No. 15 for tipping filthy water over a wedding party, accord with attacks on women and injuries to their honour (or, rather, through them that of their mundwald [legal guardian] per Lombard legal norms which did not allow women legal competency). The composition due, however, was to be split into two portions, half paid to the woman’s mundwald, the other half going to the royal fisc. With half the money going to the royal coffers, the clause establishes that this assault is not just a private matter against the woman and her guardian, but also against the Lombard regnum and rulers. This also echoes the practice where an underage girl is married or betrothed, within again half the composition going to the royal fisc. In Liutprand, No. 31 (723 CE) the earlier law on abducting women was augmented so that half of the composition would again go to the royal treasury. At the very least, the setup gave legal officials working on the behalf of the throne a strong motivation to pursue these manner of cases, and conversely removed any incentive for the families involved to decide to just let the events slide.

The composition of 900 solidi is usually only due when the perpetrator is a freeman. In the case of an enslaved person or people having thrown the putrid water at the bride, then the clause stipulates instead that their dominus [lord, enslaver] should swear oath that the crime was not committed at his bidding. Here the clause introduces a conditional argument for the outcome. Should the dominus be willing to swear that oath, then he is absolved of guilt and responsibility, and the perpetrators are instead to be handed over to the woman’s mundwald [legal guardian]. As ownership of the enslaved people has changed, this effectively would allow physical punishment or killing in retribution without perpetuating the faida or incurring further composition for the revenge. Should the dominus be unwilling to swear oath that he was not involved, then nor more mention is made of the enslaved people, and the dominus becomes fully responsible as if he had thrown the putrid water over the bridal party himself.

 

Boxed Ears or a General Slap?

This is more of a short musing post, which is more a matter of raising possibilities in comparative speculation, rather than providing any solid conclusions.  The focus is a clause in the Edictus Rothari of 643 CE that I just stumbled across in passing which snagged my interest: No. 44. A content warning for the entire post may be of use here as the clauses discussed more broadly here focus on various trauma, including beatings and, particularly, injuries to, and the severing of, ears. The specific clause, per Katherine Fischer-Drew’s translation reads as follows:

He who hits another man with his fist shall pay him three solidi as composition. He who strikes another on the ear shall pay six solidi.

Fischer-Drew, Trans. The Lombard Laws, p. 61

It’s a relatively simple seeming clause, that sets a blow to the ear [alapas] at double the value of any other punch. The value given for the ordinary punch, in fact, reiterates the value given in the preceding clause, where one punch is valued at three solidi, two punches at six solidi, three at nine solidi, and four or more at twelve solidi (Edictus Rothari, No. 43).

The positioning of the clause in the law-code more broadly is the first point of interest. With the specific focus on the ear in No. 44, it feels like it should be part of the injury tariffs, which for wounds inflicted on freemen run from Nos 46-74, and as discussed previously, list a wide range of injuries to specific body parts. (For a fuller discussion of these across the early medieval law-codes, see Lisi Oliver’s The Body Legal in Barbarian Law). The intervening clause (No 45), serves as a general introduction to the tariffs, outlining that the compositions given in the list below must be paid accordingly, and that thereafter the faida [feud] should end. As such, the separation of the blow to the ear form the specific injury tariffs seems to be a deliberate strategy by the law-givers when they organised the law-code. Moreover, the ear appears twice more in the main injury tariffs, with Edictus Rothari, No. 53 setting composition at a quarter of the victim’s praetium [the amount to be paid should they be killed] if the ear is severed fully. A few clauses later, Edictus Rothari,  No. 56 outlines a fine of sixteen solidi as composition, if a person strikes and wounds the victims ear. Perhaps, then, we simply have three clauses, haphazardly arranged in the law-code, with increasing composition for increasing severity of the damage inflicted.

The positioning of this clause before the introductory clause for the tariffs, however, emphasises that it is not part of the injury tariffs as a whole. Instead, it forms the final clause of a short cluster on the beating of a freeman (Nos 41-44). The main organisational strategy here, then, could simply be that the wounds in the beatings cluster are inflicted by bare hand, while those in the tariffs are for more significant wounds that might be inflicted with weapons and result in lasting damage. Perhaps, then, the blow to the ear in question is just part of a fist-based drubbing.

The clauses on the beating of a freeman address a number of possibilities. In Edictus Rothari, No. 41 the beating is premeditated (but not under royal instruction) and the victim is assumed to be standing about or walking along unprepared. The assault is described as being turpiter [disgraceful, shameless], and as an assault on honour the composition is calculated at half their praetium [worth]. The next clause increases the composition to two-thirds his praetium, if he is tied up in the process. It is worth noting that the Edictus Rothari does not give specific values for the praetium of a freeman, but an approximate scale can be inferred from Liutprand, No. 62, issued in 724 CE, in which a freeman who is not a landholder is set at 150 solidi, while one who has land at 300 solidi. Assuming these values were even close to those used eighty odd years earlier, then the severity of the crime and composition can be clearly seen, especially when contrasted to the values given in the next clause, of three solidi per blow up to a maximum of four blows and twelve solidi.

So how does the doubling of the composition for a blow to the ear fit into this? Is the ear being considered as a more delicate part of the body which might be damaged internally from a blow form a fist, even if no visible wound remains? I find myself wondering if the issue is in the translation. The Latin of the law-code in fact uses ‘alapas’ for the blow in question, which can mean boxing the ears, but may more broadly be translated as a slap in general.

It seems to me unlikely that an openhanded slap could do more physical damage than a punch thrown by the same person, as the open hand would surely dissipate the force somewhat. So the doubling of the composition from three solidi to six for the blow seems to me unlikely to be corresponding to that. I assume, instead, that the act of slapping itself is being taken as a form of insult, where the assailant is more concerned with damage to their victim’s honour and standing than they are with actually causing lasting physical harm. But if that is the case, then the increased values given for insult to honour are still exceedingly low compared to those for the deliberately premeditated assaults considered in the nearby clauses (or the twelve or twenty solidi for verbal insults made in the heat of the moment, per Edictus Rothari, Nos 381 and 198, respectively). Nor is their any moralising in the clause. If the focus is not specifically the ear here, then perhaps a slap amongst Lombards is just a (very) petty insult, with a little more compensation due, but not drawing further comment?

CFP Housebreaking & Breach of Courtyard in Medieval Law and Legal Cultures

Another short update, with a call for papers for a collection to be edited by myself, (provisionally) entitled: Housebreaking and Breach of Courtyard in Medieval Law and Legal Cultures. A pdf of the file can be downloaded here.

 

Violation of the boundaries of house and home appear in various forms across medieval laws and regulatory texts produced and used throughout, broadly, the first millennium CE. Such transgression might be overt or covert, whether performed as an act of violence, to commit theft, or similar. The person crossing the boundary might be caught in the act or identified later. The boundary might be transgressed entirely by the person, or group, or only partially in that a person remains outside while throwing a projectile weapon across the boundary, or sending an associate across in their place. Crossing at night may have different implications than during the day. Legal norms on the crossing of the boundary, then, imagine the significance of place, and imputation of intention, and may be violent, subversive, or imagined. The focus here centres the boundary in the argument, and examines how laws and law-givers frame this as both an event and a crime.

The wording of these clauses provides insight into pragmatic legal approaches and the legal imagination of the law-givers and their concepts of personal property and the transgression of the individual, as well as reflecting on the norms of an idealised society. The often selective focus of (early) medieval laws on these subjects vary by law-code, area and period, which can both complicate and reward a comparative analysis while revealing the extent and nature of local and regional practices. The collection hopes for a broad geographical focus, extending across the medieval worlds of Afro-Eurasia.

Contributions, therefore, are sought investigating this multi-faceted theme in the history and archaeology of medieval law and legal cultures across the first millennium within a broad range of theoretical and disciplinary frameworks, ranging from dogmatic and comparative legal studies, on the one hand, through to linguistics and literary approaches to the law, on the other.

  • Abstracts of 250-500 words and a short biographical note should be sent to thomas.gobbitt@assoc.oeaw.ac.at, in English, by Sunday 26 April 2020.
  • Submission of accepted chapters, of 7,000-10,000 words including footnotes, are provisionally anticipated for late summer 2021.

 

 

 

 

Books of Law in the Very Long Tenth Century

A very short note here, just to say that the Books of Law in the Very Long Tenth Century workshop took place last week, on Thursday the 5th and Friday the 6th September here in the Institute for Medieval Research at the Austrian Academy of the Sciences, in Vienna. Here’s the poster with which it was advertised, with an image of the replacement folios in the Lombard law-book, Vercelli, Biblioteca Capitolare, MS 188. As that manuscript originally dates to the mid-eighth century, and the additional folios are from the first decades of the ninth at the latest, it pushes the definition of ‘very long tenth century’ further than any of the contributors did! Although having said that, we comfortably spread from the ninth through into the eleventh, and happily considered cross-overs and developments across that expense.  Centuries, like periodisation as a whole, are tricky, and better left as guidelines than rules.

BooksOfLaw2019_poster

The conference was, I think I can honestly say, a great success, and we had ten very thoughtful and engaging papers, all of which shone light onto obscure corners of legal history, book cultures and the overlap thereof; some of which have re-written major parts of the field and will open new and re-open some old debates. Hopefully these will come to light and the public eye in the near future, and the next step for the workshop will be for me to assemble and submit a book proposal to a suitable academic publisher, while the contributors turn their already engaging and rigourous papers into final chapters. Watch this space for further information.

Once again, thank you to all the contributors for making this small but focused workshop such a great success!

 

CFP: Books of Law in the (Very) Long Tenth Century

All has been quiet on this blog for too long, for which I do apologise!

However, I am returning with a call for papers for a workshop on the subject of: Books of Law in the (Very) Long Tenth Century to be held in Vienna on the 05-06 September 2019.

A pdf of the call can be found here, and the full text follows:

Books of Law in the (Very) Long Tenth Century

Manuscripts containing various regulatory and normative texts were produced, emended, augmented and used across the early medieval period, with a ‘long’ tenth century. Many of the legal texts – from law-codes and canon collections, to capitularies, formularies and cartularies – were first drafted in preceding centuries, but continued to be copied, updated and re-written in response to the contemporary needs and understandings of their scribes and readers throughout the tenth century and beyond. Each manuscript witness therefore comprises a unique attestation of the legal and/or normative contexts, made immediate through text, paratext and mise-en-page, revealing the development of law, legal literacies and the legal imagination through the adaptation of the technology of the book.

This workshop therefore proposes a manuscript-led approach to law-books and normative collections, positioned at the intersection of the disciplines of the History of Law and the History of the Book. Contributions might consider the specific contexts of an individual legal manuscript, comparative studies of multiple manuscript witnesses of a single law-text or of laws within the contexts of legal pluralism, comparative analysis of approaches taken to different laws and legal texts at a local level, or within/between regions. Specific directions of enquiry might address how the law-books were produced or were developed over time, how scribes in the long-tenth century adapted and updated the laws, evidence for readership, manuscript-led analysis of legal literacies (both pragmatic or ideological) and cultures, intertextual readings, textual communities, and so forth.

Please send proposed titles, abstracts of ca. 250 words, and a short bibliographical note to thomas.gobbitt@assoc.oeaw.ac.at, by Sunday 31 March 2019. The conference forms part of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) research project, Lombard Law-books and Book Culture, ca. 850-1025 (P-29968). An edited collection of the proceedings and related contributions considering Books of Law in the First Millennium more broadly will be submitted for consideration to the (peer-reviewed) Medieval Worlds journal of the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.