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Germanic laws

Introduction

Germanic laws, customary law codes of the Germans before their contact with the Romans. They are unknown to us except through casual references of ancient authors and inferences from the codes compiled after the tribes had invaded the Roman Empire. These codes (called leges barbarorum ), dating from the 5th to the 9th cent., are usually divided into four groups: the Gothic (Visigothic, Burgundian, and Ostrogothic), the Frankish (Salic, Ripuarian, Chamavian, and Thuringian), the Saxon (Saxon, Anglo-Saxon, and Frisian), and the Bavarian (Alemannic and Bavarian). The Langobardic, or Lombard, laws are sometimes classed with the Saxon. Our knowledge of the early German laws is much hampered by the faultiness of manuscripts; many are known only in fragments.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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