Leges Salicae

Leges Salicae Facsimile Edition

Germany — 10th century

The foundation of modern European law: a collection of the oldest Germanic legal texts with Carolingian miniatures

  1. The modern European legal system is largely based on the laws and customs of the 8th and 9th centuries

  2. A collection of the oldest German legal codes: the Lex Salica, Lex Lombardia, Lex Bavaria, and Lex Ripuria

  3. All aspects of the law were addressed: rights of succession, rules of the courts, and disputes between neighbors

Leges Salicae

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Leges Salicae

The Leges Salicae was created by an unknown illuminator in the course of the 10th century. This work is a collection of the oldest German legal codes, the Lex Salica, Lex Lombardia, Lex Bavaria, and Lex Ripuria. The legal norms are steeped in tradition and are illustrated with colorful miniatures in the Carolingian style.

Leges Salicae

In the 10th century, an unnamed German illuminator composed a manuscript that united the oldest German law books. The so-called Leges Salicae contained the entire legal codes of Lombardy, the Lex Bavaria and the Lex Ripuria, as well as a code of law most steeped in tradition, the Lex Salica. Additionally, the manuscript contains a few Carolingian works commissioned by Charlemagne and his descendants Pippin, Lothair I, and Louis II. The manuscript is illustrated with enchanting, historiated miniatures in the Carolingian style.

A Historic Document

The Leges Salica is a collection of numerous national and ethnic legal norms, on which the various Germanic tribes oriented themselves before the Carolingian Empire. All of these legal norms played an important role for the emergence of Europe. The European system of laws as we know it today is largely based on the historical laws and customs of our ancestors in the 8th and 9th century. Much of the legal provisions of that time are still valid today in a few monarchies and as the domiciliary right of many German noble houses.

The Lex Salica

Old, orally-transmitted legal practices were first recorded in writing in the Lex Salica. Its articles concerned all possible legal matters, for which the culprit almost always had to pay a fine – as long as they were a free person. Those who were not free on the other hand could be subject to corporal punishments like flogging or being beaten with a rod and in some cases even with the death penalty. Additionally, the Lex Salica contained stipulations for the right of succession and the rules of the courts. Later, many European dynasties would model their line of succession on the style of these inheritance laws in that women could not inherit the crown, even if no male heir existed: In terram salicam mulieres ne succedant. Today, this particular stipulation of the Rex Salica is often simply referred to as Salic Law. It was suspended for the first time in 1713 for the Hapsburg monarchy in a groundbreaking act.


Size / Format
432 pages / 26.5 × 17.5 cm
10th century
Carolingian minuscule
4 miniatures and 4 decorative pages
A collection of the oldest German legal codes: the Lex Salica, Lex Lombardia, Lex Bavaria, and Lex Ripuria as well captiularies, a musical fragment, and an excerpt from the Etymologiae by Isidore of Seville

Available facsimile editions:
Leges Salicae – Ms. O.I.2 – Archivio Capitolare di Modena (Modena, Italy) Facsimile Edition
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2008
Limited Edition: 10 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Leges Salicae

Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2008

Publisher: Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena, 2008
Limited Edition: 10 copies
Binding: Embossed leather over wooden boards, presented in a leather-covered Solander box with the commentary volume
Commentary: 1 volume by Guido Vigarani, Paolo Golinelli, Giuseppa Z. Zanichelli, and Giovanna Nicolaj
Language: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
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