Lex Saxonum

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The Lex Saxonum are a series of laws issued by Charlemagne in 785 as part of his plan to subdue the Saxon nation. The law is thus a compromise between the traditional customs and statutes of the pagan Saxons and the established laws of the Frankish Empire.

The Lex Saxonum has come down to us in two manuscripts and two old editions (those of B. J. Herold and du Tillet), and the text has been edited by Karl von Richthofen in the Mon. Germ. hist., Leges, v. The law contains ancient customary enactments of Saxony, and, in the form in which it has reached us, is later than the conquest of Saxony by Charlemagne. It is preceded by two capitularies of Charlemagne for Saxony, the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae (A. Boretius i. 68), which dates undoubtedly from 782, and is characterized by great severity, death being the penalty for every offence against the Christian religion; and the Capitulare Saxonicum (A. Boretius i. 71), of the 28 October 797, in which Charlemagne shows less brutality and pronounces simple compositions for misdeeds which formerly entailed death. The Lex Saxonum apparently dates from 803, since it contains provisions which are in the Capitulare legi Ribuariae additum of that year. The law established the ancient customs, at the same time eliminating anything that was contrary to the spirit of Christianity; it proclaimed the peace of the churches, whose possessions it guaranteed and whose right of asylum it recognized.

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