Lex Romana Visigothorum and Epitomae

1. Introduction

The Lex Romana Visigothorum (or: Breviarium Alarici) is the most widely used and most complete Roman legal corpus of the Early Middle Ages. It was issued in 506 by the Visigothic king Alaric II. and regarded as the official law code up to the year 654, when it was replaced by the Liber Iudiciorum of King Reccesvinth. The Breviarium combines excerpts from the Theodosian Code, a collection of posttheodosian novels, a version of the Institutiones of Gaius called Gai Epitome, the pseudo- Pauline sentences, excerpts from the codices Gregorianus and Hermogenianus, as well as a single responsum of Aemilius Papinianus at the end. Interpretations are added to almost all parts of the Lex. The union of imperial law and Roman jurisprudence in one corpus thus succeeded around 30 years before Justinian’s attempts to do so.

Many shortened versions of the Lex Romana Visigothorum, the so-called epitome, arised, largely based on interpretations of the content. The most important one is the Epitome Aegidii, named after the first editor Petrus Aegidius, who published them in 1517. It was only in 1528 when Johannes Sichardus made a first print of the Lex Romana Visigothorum in Basle. A lot of other epitomizations exist, some of them only surviving in single manuscripts (e.g. the Epitome Guelferbytana, the Epitome Lugdunensis and the Epitome codicis Seldeni). Including its Epitome the Lex Romana Visigothorum is preserved in more than 100 witnesses.


2. Edition

Gustav Hänel (Ed.), Lex Romana Visigothorum, Leipzig 1849.


3. Reading recommendations (2000 onwards)

  • Detlef Liebs, Art. “Lex Romana Visigothorum”, in: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 18, 2001, 323-326.
  • John Matthews, Interpreting the Interpretationes of the Breviarium, in: Ralph Mathisen (Ed.), Law, society, and authority in late antiquity, Oxford 2001, 11-33.
  • Detlef Liebs, Römische Jurisprudenz in Gallien (2. bis 8. Jahrhundert) (Freiburger Rechtsgeschichtliche Abhandlungen N.F. 38), Berlin 2002.
  • Detlef Liebs, Zur Überlieferung und Entstehung des Breviarium Alaricianum, in: Stefano Giglio (Ed.), Atti dell’Accademia Romanistica Costantiniana. XIV Convegno internazionale in memoria di Guglielmo Nocera, Naples 2003, 653-671.
  • Dominik Trump, Römisches Recht in Reims: Ein Exzerpt aus der Epitome Aegidii in der Handschrift Mailand, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, A. 46 inf., in: Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Romanistische Abteilung 133 (2016), 322-371.
  • Dominik Trump, Beobachtungen zu einem Titel römischen Rechts in der Handschrift Laon, Bibliothèque Municipale, 265, in: Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Romanistische Abteilung 134 (2017), 524-529.
  • Wolfgang Kaiser, Schemata zur agnatischen und kognatischen Verwandtschaft nach Römischem Recht in Handschriften mit westgotisch-römischem Recht, in: Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Romanistische Abteilung 134 (2017), 353-408.
  • Dominik Trump, Art. “Epitome Aegidii”, in: Germanische Altertumskunde Online. Kulturgeschichte bis ins Frühmittelalter – Archäologie, Geschichte, Philologie, Berlin / Boston 2017. [online]

4. Further resources


5. Manuscripts [104]


[Wikipedia article] [VIAF entry]