Council of Worms:
On the Murder of Slaves, 876
To prevent the murder of slaves severe penances were inflicted by the Council of
Worms. In the second instance below, female serfs or slaves were given some protection
against the jealousy of suspicious wives.
38. If any one shall kill his own slave without the knowledge of the
judges---a slave who has committed such thing as may be worthy of death---he shall emend
the guilt of blood by excommunication or by a penance for two years.
39. If any woman incensed by a fit of jealousy should beat her slave, so that
within three days she [the slave] should die in torment, so that it be uncertain whether
she killed her intentionally or by accident, she shall do lawful penance for five years,
if it be by chance, but for seven years if she do it intentionally.
J. D. Mansi, ed., Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, (Paris: H.
Welter, 1902), Vol. XV, p. 876; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A
Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936;
reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), p. 285.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998