The Edictum Rothari was the first written compilation of Lombard law, codified and promulgated 22 November 643 by King Rothari.
The Edict was written down by one Ansoald, not a bishop or lawyer, but a scribe of Lombard origin. It was affirmed by a gairethinx convened by Rothari in 643. The gairethinx was a gathering of the army that passed the law by clashing their spears on their shields in old Germanic fashion, a fitting passing for a Latin code that was so Germanic.
The Edict makes no references to public life, the governance of trade or the duties of a citizen; instead, it is minutely concerned with compensations for wrongs, a feature familiar from thewergeld of Anglo-Saxons and the defense of property rights. Though Lombard women were always in some status of wardship to the males of the family, and a freeborn Lombard woman who married an aldius (half-free) or a slave might be slain or sold by her male kin, the respect, amounting to taboo, that was owed to a freeborn Lombard woman was notable. Anyone who would “place himself in the way” (injure) of a free woman or girl must pay nine hundred solidi, an immense sum. For comparison, anyone who would “place himself in the way” of a free man had to pay him twenty solidi if there was no bodily injury, and in similar cases involving another man’s slave, handmaid or aldius, twenty solidi to the lord had to be paid, the price for copulation with another man’s slave. Roman slaves were of lower value in these matters than Germanic slaves “of the nations”.
Physical injuries were all minutely catalogued, with a price for each tooth, finger or toe. Property was a concern: many laws dealt specially with injuries to an aldius or to a household slave. Still lower classes, according to their assigned values, were the agricultural slaves.
- Oman, Charles. The Dark Ages 476-918. London, 1914.
- Paul the Deacon, Historia Langobardorumxlii (English translation by William Dudley Foulke, 1907)