On this day:
502 – King Gundobad issues a new legal code (Lex Burgundionum) at Lyon that makes Gallo-Romans and Burgundians subject to the same laws.
The Lex Burgundionum (Burgundian Laws, also lex gundobada or loi gombette) refers to the law code of the Burgundians, probably issued by king Gundobad. It is influenced by Roman law and deals with domestic laws concerning marriage and inheritance as well as regulating weregild and other penalties. Interaction between Burgundians is treated separately from interaction between Burgundians and Gallo-Romans. The oldest of the 14 surviving manuscripts of the text dates to the 9th century, but the code’s institution is ascribed to king Gundobad (died 516), with a possible revision by his successor Sigismund (died 523). The Lex Romana Burgundionum is a separate code, containing various laws taken from Roman sources, probably intended to apply to the Burgundians’ Gallo-Roman subjects. The oldest copy of this text dates to the 7th century.
The Lex Burgundionum code was compiled by King Gundobad (474-516), very probably after his defeat by Clovis I in 500. Some additamenta were subsequently introduced, either by Gundobad himself or by his son Sigismund. This law bears the title of Liber Constitutionum, indicating that it emanated from the king; it is also known as the Lex Gundobada or Lex Gombata. It was used for cases between Burgundians, and was also applicable to cases between Burgundians and Romans. For cases between Romans, however, Gundobad compiled the Lex Romana Burgundionum, called sometimes, through a misreading of the manuscript, the Liber Papiani, or simply Papianus.
The Burgundian kingdom is one of the early Germanic kingdoms that existed within the Roman Empire. In the late fifth and early sixth centuries, the Burgundian kings Gundobad and Sigismund compiled and codified laws to govern the members of their Barbarian tribe, as well as Romans living amongst them. Those laws governing the Burgundians themselves are called collectively the Lex Burgundionum, while the laws governing the Romans are known collectively as the Lex Romana Burgundionum. Both are extant. The laws codified in the Burgundian Code reflect the earliest fusion of German tribal culture with the Roman system of government. It promoted and helped maintain harmonious relations between such widely different people who had been previous enemies. More devotion has been given to other Germanic tribes of this time and little is known about the culture and way of life of the Burgundians beyond what can be inferred from their legal code. Dr. Katherine Fischer Drew claims that it is the most influential of all barbarian law codes because of its survival, even after Frankish conquest, until the ninth century.
The Romans consistently allied themselves with certain barbarian groups outside the Empire, playing them out against rival barbarian tribes as a policy of divide and rule, the barbarian allies being known as foederati. Sometimes these groups were allowed to live within the Empire. Barbarians could also be settled within the Empire as dediticii or laeti. The Romans could henceforth rely on these groups for military support or even as legionary recruits. One such group were the Burgundians, whom the Roman Emperor Honorius in 406 had invited to join the Roman Empire as foederati with a capital at Worms . The Burgundians were soon defeated by the Huns, but once again given land near Lake Geneva for Gundioc (r. 443-474) to establish a second federate kingdom within the Roman Empire in 443. This alliance was a contractual agreement between the two peoples. Gundioc’s people were given one-third of Roman slaves and two-thirds of the land within Roman territory. The Burgundians were allowed to establish an independent federate kingdom within the Empire and received the nominal protection of Rome for their agreement to defend their territories from other outsiders. This contractual relationship between the guests, Burgundians, and hosts, Romans, supposedly provided legal and social equality. However, Drew argues that the property rights and social status of the guests may have given them disproportionate leverage over their hosts. More recently, Henry Sumner Maine argues that the Burgundians exercised “tribe-sovereignty” rather than complete territorial sovereignty.
Gundioc’s son, Gundobad (r. 474-516), began commission for his kingdom’s legal codification in 483, which his son and successor, Sigismund (r. 516-532) completed. The laws deal mostly with inheritance and monetary compensation for physical injury. The earlier work, antiquae, and the later additions, novellae, together make the whole Burgundian Code. The Franks began attacking the Burgundians in 523 and completely defeated them by 534, when Sigismund’s brother, Godomar (r. 532-534), fled and left the kingdom to be divided amongst Frankish rulers. However, the Franks kept Burgundian law in practice.
Contents of the Lex
The Burgundian Code consists of two sets of laws, the earlier Book of Constitutions or Law of Gundobad, or Liber Constitutionum sive Lex Gundobada, and Additional Enactments, or Constitutiones Extravagantes. The laws of both parts are intended to govern the personal relations between individuals. The Law of Gundobad (Titles II-XLI) is a compilation of existing customary laws. These laws are mostly a codification of customs that had been accepted as law throughout the tribe through common practice. Drew describes Gundobad’s work “as a recording of the customs of his people issued with the consent of the people”. The later additions (Titles LXXXVIII-CV and Constitutiones Extravagantes), which are believed to have been issued primarily by Sigismund, are more rhetorical. They begin with general legal principles and dictate from the judgment of the king how a disputed situation may be handled.
It is this conflict between customary and statutory law that one sees the blending of Burgundian and Roman laws. Roman influence is apparent in the very act of writing down Germanic customary law. According to Edward Peters in his foreword to Drew’s translation of the Burgundian Code, Roman ideals triumphed when King Gundobad began organizing his people’s customary laws in order for their codification. King Gundobad’s singular action to codify laws can also be seen as a major change in Germanic culture as reflecting the emergence of the king as supreme judge and lawmaker. The Burgundians already had traditions and laws for arbitrating disputes among its people, but Romans brought with them organizational structure for a more legitimate government.
A great number of laws deal specifically with Germanic-style monetary retribution for intentional physical harm on one another. Punitive fines, rather than further physical injury or capital punishment, were used to regulate physical injury to prevent blood feud between two members of a tribal kinship. Along with money payments in compensation for physical injuries, the Burgundian Code also incorporates the wergeld, another Germanic institution. Drew defines wergelds as “the sum at which a man was valued and by the payment of which his death could be compensated”. The wergeld of the upper class of freemen was worth a payment of 300 solidi, the underclass freeman worth 200 solidi, and the lowest class of freeman was 150 solidi. Drew believes that the family was the absolute most important social institution in Germanic tribes.
Additionally, its inheritance laws were based on Germanic custom. Land was passed down through a strict law of familial succession, which differs greatly from Roman laws on property that allow property to be acquired through ways other than hereditary inheritance, such as buying and selling or testimonial succession. Among other features, a widow was entitled to a life interest in a third of her husband’s landed property: this may have been the prototype of the analogous institution of dower in early English law.
If a man betrothed a young woman and her parents later refused, they were liable to return four-fold the bride-price. But if she refused of her own accord, or if the wedding was not celebrated within two years, she could be re-engaged without penalty. If the man broke off the engagement, he got no refund. (§27)
The laws of the Burgundians show strong traces of Roman influence. It recognizes the will and attaches great importance to written deeds, but on the other hand, sanctions the judicial duel and the cojuratores (sworn witnesses). The vehement protest made in the 9th century by Agobard, bishop of Lyon, against the Lex Gundobada shows that it was still in use at that period. So late as the 10th and even the 11th centuries we find the law of the Burgundians invoked as personal law in Cluny charters, but doubtless these passages refer to accretions of local customs, rather than to actual paragraphs of the ancient code.
Born on this day:
1842 – Emilia Baeyertz, Jewish-descended Welsh Christian evangelist (d. 1926)
Emilia Louise Baeyertz (née Aronson; 29 March 1842 – 26 April 1926) was a Welsh Christian evangelist, born to a devout Jewish family in Wales, who described herself as “the Christian Jewess”. She was home schooled due to her poor health and suffered a breakdown when her fiancé was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Her family sent her to Australia to live with her sister to help her recovery, where she fell in love with and secretly married an Anglican Christian man.
Baeyertz did not intend to convert to Christianity when she married him, but she subsequently did for the sake of her children. Her husband died as a result of a shooting accident in 1871, whereupon she experienced a full conversion to Christianity. She spent the following few years giving sermons and, by 1879, she was featured speaker for a YWCA campaign of sermons, before spending a decade conducting Christian missions around Victoria.
Between 1890 and 1904, Baeyertz conducted missions around the world, starting in New Zealand, then spending a few years in the US and Canada, before returning to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Baeyertz was born as Emilia Louise Aronson on 29 March 1842 in Bangor, North Wales. Her family were wealthy orthodox Jews, and she was brought up to strict Jewish ideals. She attended school for a while but, by the time that she reached thirteen, her family removed her from formal education and she remained at home due to her ill health. Instead, she spent her time with her mother, who used to read Shakespeare to her, and would spend time in her family’s library practising reading aloud.
When she was old enough, she attended social events and soon met a young Jewish man. He asked her father for her hand in marriage, and the father agreed on the condition that the man take out life insurance. While Emilia was planning the wedding, her fiancé attended doctor’s appointments as part of the insurance underwriting process. There he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and told that he did not have long to live. The wedding was cancelled, and Baeyertz suffered a breakdown and ill health as a result.
In February 1864, her family sent her and her brother to Melbourne to live with her sister, with the intention of helping to improve Baeyertz’s health. By the time that the siblings arrived by ship in Melbourne, Baeyertz had already recovered and she quickly integrated herself into the Australian social life. She soon met Charles Baeyertz, a bank manager at the Richmond branch of National Bank of Australasia and a practising Anglican. The couple started a relationship, keeping it secret from both their families.
Baeyertz agreed to marry Charles on the condition that he would never attempt to convert her to Christianity—indeed, that he would never mention his religion to her at all. The couple married in secret at Christ Church in Hawthorn, Victoria on 16 October 1865. Soon after, the Baeyertz’s family discovered the marriage and disowned her for marrying a non-Jewish man. They moved to Colac, Victoria where Charles found a new role as bank manager for the National Bank of Australasia, and they had two children, son Charles Nalder who went on to be a journalist and establish a New Zealand magazine, and daughter Marion. Baeyertz started attending church with her husband, and she decided to convert to Christianity for her children’s sake towards the end of the 1860s, when Marion was baptised. She didn’t believe in the Christian tenets, so she had a friend fill in her baptism application to ensure that the answers were correct.
Baeyertz’s husband died on 6 March 1871 at the age of 28, two days after a shooting accident. She turned to the Anglican church to help her and she experienced a full conversion to the religion. She put her children into boarding school and became an evangelist, visiting jails and hospitals to spread the religion, as well as door-to-door preaching to the Jewish areas of Melbourne. She did not manage to convert anyone, and ended up with her life threatened.
Baeyertz joined the YWCA and was soon preaching to large crowds. By 1879, she was the featured speaker for a campaign of sermons in Sandhurst, eventually converting 200 individuals. She then conducted a Christian mission to Ballarat, with crowds of 2,300 assembling to hear her talk. Emilia conducted a number of further missions around Victoria between 1880 and 1890. In 1890, she went to New Zealand to preach, before moving on to North America. She arrived in San Francisco in October 1890, and spent two years giving sermons in conjunction with the YMCA in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston in USA as well as Toronto and Ottawa in Canada.
In 1892, Baeyertz returned to the United Kingdom, preaching and conducting missions in Ireland, Scotland, and England. There she would preach to packed halls, sometimes to just women, earning £43 in a fortnight (worth about £17,000 in 2014).[note 1] She remained in her London base until 1904, when she returned to Australia. Emilia arrived in Perth in May 1904, remaining there for a year before returning to Victoria. Towards the end of her life, she returned to England. She conducted a few missions before her death on 26 April 1926 in Surrey.