The Law of the Salian Franks
Early Germanic law codes were oral compilations of custom. Under contacat with
Rome, and literate civilization, these laws began to be set down from the 7th century on.
Title I Concerning Summonses
1 . If any one be summoned before the "Thing" by the
king's law, and do not come, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars,
which make 15 shillings (solidi).
2. But he who summons another, and does not come himself, shall,
if a lawful impediment have not delayed him, be sentenced to 15
shillings, to be paid to him whom he summoned.
Title III. Concerning Thefts of Cattle
4. If any one steal that bull which rules the herd and never has
been yoked, he shall be sentenced to 1800 denars, which make 45
5. But if that bull is used for the cows of three villages in
common, he who stole him shall be sentenced to three times 45
6. If any one steal a bull belonging to the king he shall be sentenced
to 3600 denars, which make 90 shillings.
Title XI Concerning Thefts or Housebreakings of Freemen
1. If any freeman steal, outside of the house, something worth
2 denars, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
2. But if he steal, outside of the house, something worth 40 denars,
and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced, besides the amount
and the fines for delay, to 1400 denars, which make 35 shillings.
3. If a freeman break into a house and steal something worth 2
denars, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 15 shillings.
4. But if he shall have stolen something worth more than 5 denars,
and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced, besides
the worth of the object and the fines for delay, to 1400 denars,
which make 35 shillings.
5. But if he have broken, or tampered with, the lock, and thus
have entered the house and stolen anything from it, he shall be
senteiiced, besides the worth of the object and the fines for
delay, to 1800 denars, which make 45 shillings.
6. And if he have taken nothing, or have escaped by flight, he
shall, for the housebreaking alone, be sentenced to 1200 denars,
which make 30 shillings.
Title XIII. (.oncffit'ng Rape Committed by Freemen
1 .If three men car off a free born girl, they shall be compelled
to pay 30 shillings.
2. If there are more than three, each one shall pay five shillings.
3. Those who shall have been present with boats shall be sentenced
to three shillings.
4. But those who commit rape shall be compelled to pay 2500 denars,
which make 63 shillings.
5. But if they have carried off that girl from behind lock and
key, or from the spinning room, they shall be sentenced to the
above price and penalty.
6. But if the girl who is carried off be under the king's protection
then the "firth" (peace-money) shall be 2500 denars,
which make 63 shillings.
Title XIV. Concerning Assault and Robbery
1 . If any one have assaulted and plundered a freeman, and it
be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which
make 63 shillings.
2. If a Roman have plundered a Salian Frank, the above law shall
3. But if a Frank have plundered a Roman, he shall be sentenced
to 35 shillings.
4. If any man should wish to migrate, and have permission from
the king, and shall have shown this in the public "Thing":
whoever, contrary to the decreee of the king, shall presume to
oppose him, shall be sentenced to 8000 denars, which make 200
Title XVII. Concerning Wounds
1. If any one have wished to kill another person, and the blow
have inissed, he on whom it was proved shall be sentenced to 2500
denars, which make 63 shillings.
2. If any person have wished to strike another with a poisoned
arrow, and the arrow have glanced aside, and it shall be
proved on him: he shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which
make 63 shillings.
3. If any person strike another on the head so that the brain
appears, and the three bones which lie above the brain shall project,
he shall be sentenced to 1200 denars, which make 30 shillings.
4. But if it shall have been between the ribs or in the stomach,
so that the wound appears and reaches to the entrails, he shall
be sentenced to 1200 denars-which make 30 shillings-besides five
shillings for the physician's pay.
5. If any one shall have struck a man so that blood falls to the
floor, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars,
which make 15 shillings.
6. But if a freeman strike a freeman with his fist so that blood
does not flow, he shall be sentenced for each blow-up to 3 blowsto
120 denars, which make 3 shillings.
Title XXIV. Concerning the Killing of Little Children and Women
1. If any one have slain a boy under 10 years-up to the end of
the tenth-and it shall have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced
to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
3. If any one have hit a free woman who is pregnant, and she dies,
he shall be sentenced to 28000 denars, which makes 700 shillings.
6. If any one have killed a free woman after she has begun bearing
children, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600
7. After she can have no more children, he who kills her shall
be sentenced to 8000 denars, which make 200 shillings.
Title XXX. Concerning Insults
3. If any one, man or woman, shall have called a woman harlot,
and a not have been able to prove it, he shall be sentenced to
1800 denars, which make 45 shillings.
4. If any person shall have called another "fox," he
shall be sentenced to 3 shillings.
5. If any man shall have called another "hare," he shall
be sentenced to 3 shillings.
Title XLI Concerning the Murder of Freemen
1. If any one shall have killed a free Frank, or a barbarian living
under the Salic law, and it have been proved on him, he shall
be sentenced to 8000 denars.
2. But if he shall have thrown him into a well or into the water,
or shall have covered him with branches or anything else, to conceal
him, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
3. But if any one has slain a man who is in the service of the
king, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
4. But if he have put him in the water or in a well, and covered
him with anything to conceal him, he shall be sentenced to 72000
denars, which make 1800 shillings.
5. If any one have slain a Roman who eats in the king's palace,
and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 12000
denars, which make 300 shillings.
6. But if the Roman shall not have been a landed proprietor and
table companion of the king, he who killed him shall be sentenced
to 4000 denars, which make 100 shillings.
Title LVII. Conceming the "Chrenecruda "
1. If any one have killed a man, and, having given up all his
property, has not enough to comply with the full terms of the
law, he shall present 12 sworn witnesses to the effect that, neither
above the earth nor under it, has he any more property than he
has already given, And he shall afterwards go into his house,
and shall collect in his hand dust from the four corners of it,
and shall afterwards stand upon the threshold, looking inwards
into the house. And then, with his left hand, he shall throw
over his shoulder some of that dust on the nearest relative that
he has. But if his father and (his father's) brothers have already
paid, he shall then throw that dust on their (the brothers') children-that
is, over three (relatives) who are nearest on the fathcr's and
three on the mother's side. And after that, in his shirt, without
girdle and without shoes, a staff in his hand, he shall spring
over the hedge. And then those three shall pay half of what is
lacking of the compounding money or the legal fine; that is, those
others who are descended in the paternal line shall do this.
2. But if there be one of those relatives who has not enough to
pay his whole indebtedness, he, the poorer one, shall in turn
throw the "chrenecruda" on him of them who has the most,
so that he shall pay the whole fine.
3. But if he also have not enough to pay the whole, then he who
has charge of the murderer shall bring him before the "Thing,"
and afterwards to 4 Things, in order that they (his friends) may
take him under their protection. And if no one have taken him
under his protection-that is, so as to redeem him for what he
can not pay-then he shall have to atone with his life.
Title LIX. Concerning Private Property
1. If any man die and leave no sons, if the father and mother
survive, they shall inherit.
2. If the father and mother do not survive, and he leave brothers
or sisters, they shall inherit.
3. But if there are none, the sisters of the father shall inherit.
4. But if there are no sisters of the father, the sisters of the
mother shall claim the inheritance.
5. If there are none of these, the nearest relative on the fathcr's
side shall succeed to that inheritance.
6. But of Salic land no portion of the inheritance shall come
to a woman: but the whole inheritance of the land shall come to
the male sex.
Title LXII. Concerning Wergeld
1 . If any one's father have been killed, the sons shall have
half the compounding money (wergeld); and the other half the nearest
relatives, as well on the mother's as on the father's side, shall
divide among themselves.
2. But if there are no relatives, paternal or maternal, that portion
shall go to the fisc.
from "The Salic Law," in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 176-189
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(c)Paul Halsall Feb 1996