The Northern Way

Commentary To the Germanic Laws and Medieval Documents

(Page 2)

This series of words, while representing the old connotation, is comparatively new in the documents, no recorded instance being earlier than the 12 cent. In Italy the corresponding word in the Frankish documents, that is, from the end of the 8 cent. on, is foderum. Previous to Charlemagne there is found not the slightest reference to the exaction of provender, because neither the Justinian Code nor the Langobard law mentions it explicitly, but beginning with the year 792 "fredum exigere" of the Frankish documents is for Italy changed to "foderum exigere," (50) and this foderum is also recorded as frodum (51) and forum. (52) These forms are by no means mere misspellings, but were actually in use, as is proved, for the first, by the forms froyre, froyrage, frourerius, recorded in Ducange, apparently from an intermediary frodrum, (53) and, for the second, by the OHG. vure, fuora "pastum." (54) Fodrum is referred to as "annona militaris," (55) so that we have in the change of the Frankish immunity for Italy a compliance with the old Roman institution by which annonae were paid instead of the veredi. There is a strange confusion of forms in the Germanic languages for "food" or "fodder." OHG. has not only the above-mentioned fuora, but also fôtar, fôtida, and the verbs fuottan, fôtjan, fotarjan "to feed." The Goth. records only fodjan "to feed," fodeins "food, nourishment," while the ONorse has both f´ðra and föða "to feed." The other Germanic languages have similar double forms. The documents show conclusively that at the end of the 8 cent. the current form in Italy was approximately foder, with probable phonetic variations, while the Goth. records only forms without the r. The latter can only be a back formation from the first, even as both forms exist side by side in the other Germanic languages. But the substitution of the "annonae" for the veredi, so characteristic for Italy, coupled with the substitution of foderum, frodrum, etc., for fredum on Italian soil, makes it certain that foderum is a transposed form for foredum, from veredum, while forum, which may have influenced this change, is due to a confusion with forum "price at which provisions are sold in the market." (56)

Thus it appears that the earliest forms in the Germanic languages are those derived from the current reda of the Romans, which is even older than the Christian era and may have entered the Gothic language before the age of migration. Another set is connected with the Visigothic rule in Spain, producing the root wairth- in Gothic and similar forms elsewhere. A third refers to the Ostrogothic and Lombard substitution of the "annonae," producing the stem fod-. In France, where the veredi gave way to the monetary commutation, the fredum, the Germans formed the word fridu, OSaxon frithu, AS. friðu, freoðo, freoð, ONorse friðr "peace." From this root the Goth. has formed ga-frithôn "to atone," freidjan "spare," from the OHG. frîten "to enclose, protect," while the French has stopped in frais at the meaning "expense."

In the Salic law the fine fredum is now paid to the fiscus, now to the judge, but there is one compound fine, fredo et faido, (57) which needs a thorough investigation, since the usual meaning of faida "blood feud" is here entirely out of place. The assumption that the blood feud played any part in Germanic law as a Germanic institution is incorrect, for, although Tacitus distinctly refers to such a custom among the Germans, the practice of it in law is amply accounted for by the Roman decrees, which countenanced it in certain cases. It has arisen from the legality of killing in self-defence, as laid down in the Lex Cornelia de sicariis, which has been of great importance in shaping certain later enactments, of which I shall speak at another time. What makes the derivation of the German feud from the Roman precedent a certainty is not merely the resemblance of the two, but certain verbal identities, which exclude every chance of accidental resemblance. In the year 323 it was enacted that one who led the barbarians treacherously, "scelerata factione," against the Romans, should be burned, (58) and in 391 it was specifically ordered to lynch the attacking highwayman without legal procedure, (59) and a few years later (397) a man joining a rebellion, "quisque sceleratam inierit factionem aut factionis ipsius susceperit sacramenta," was beheaded as a "majestatis reus," while his possessions were confiscated. (60) Factio is frequently mentioned in the Codex Justinianus (61) and in the glosses in the sense of "sedition," while factiosus is "seditious." (62) Hence the Lex Alamannorum, which has a caption "de eo qui mortem ducis consiliatus fuerit," exactly corresponding to the Lex Cornelia, quite correctly renders this in one redaction by "De factiosis." (63)

The Anglo-Saxons know the feud under the Latin name of factio, and here, too, factiosus is the king's enemy, the outlaw, the "majestatis reus." King Eadmund tried to abate the illegal feuds by determining that the murderer alone was subject to blood feud; that if a relative gave him protection, all the relative's property was forfeited to the king, and he himself became subject to the blood feud; that if a relative of the murdered person avenged himself upon any one else than the actual murderer, he became an outlaw before the king and lost all his possessions. (64) Thus we have here a mere extension and combination of the Roman laws. The murderer and he who privately starts a factio, to avenge a person's death, are equally outlaws, "majestatis rei, inimici regis," who lose all their property. It is obvious that AS. faehðe, which renders the Lat. factio, faidia, is identical with it, the first being derived from the second, and fah, gefah, fáh (mon), a back formation from this faehðe, which appears here as a translation of "inimicus regis," (65) is used by Aelfred for factiosus. (66)

In the Langobard laws the exclusion of the blood feud is introduced by the formula "cessante faida id est inimicita," a proof that faida is a strange word which needs glossing, but "inimicita" is identical with "inimicitiae factio" of the Anglo-Saxon laws, hence faida and factio are identical. (67) Again, the Langobard law reads "De faidosis et armis infra patriam non portandis," (68) where faidosus is the previously mentioned factiosus, and the chapter "De rusticanorum seditionem" (Roth. 280) is a close rendering of the Lex Cornelia, (69) but here the formula "concilios et seditionis facere" is identical with the "in concilio et in facto" (70) of the Genoese formula, as preserved in the 12 cent., where factum stands for factio. This factum is not an accidental change from factio, but a confusion with ex facto, in factum of the Roman laws, which Ulpian uses for "ex maleficio, ex delicto," while Modestin writes "ex peccato" for it. (71) This significance has not maintained itself in the later Roman law, but the Germanic laws use ex facto, inter facto, in facto to connote the fine for a misdeed, chiefly such as is connected with murder. The Langobard laws cited above have no need for the fredum of the Franks, because the composition for the faida includes the amount paid over to the fiscus "for the keeping of the peace." There is but one reference to fredum in Rothar's law, where it has the meaning of "refuge, asylum," which at once throws a light on the Gothic words from fredum, which refer to similar ideas. This special use in Italy is due to the importance of the churches and asylums "for the keeping of the peace." Within their walls the prisoner was free from the civil authorities. Hence fredum means "the enclosure of the peace asylum, refuge," and in this connotation it occurs among the Langobards as fraida. (72) In the Salic laws we find the combination as ex faido et fredo, to express the whole composition due to the court for a misdeed, but there is one text which still reads correctly in facto et freto, (73) hence the OHG. faida "feud" has arisen from factum "misdeed, feud." In the Bavarian and Frisian laws the identity of faidosus and factiosus is well preserved, the two texts keeping close to the context of the Lex Cornelia. (74)

The ex facto of the Romans has given rise to two extremely important groups of concepts in the Romance and Germanic languages, represented by the nouns misfactum and forisfactum. Missus was the technical term for a discharged soldier in the Roman Empire, (75) hence missum facio very early acquired the meaning "I discharge, dismiss (76) It is thus that missa "mass" developed from the original custom of giving the Eucharist at the dismissal of the church service, even as it was the usual expression in the Frankish courts for "discharge from observation of a duty." (77) Thus mis- came to be identical with ex "out," (78) the legal term ex facto was by the ninth century rendered as misfactum, (79) the prefix mis- thus acquired the meaning of "wrong, miss-" and was soon attached to prendere, (80) loqui and other words to give them a contrary or disagreeable significance. This mis- was very popular in the Frankish Empire, and not only are the French méfaire, méprendre the direct descendants of this misfactum, but mis- having been adopted also by the German population of France, the Goths, in their Bible translation, which was made in France about the year 800, adopted the legal term misfactum and literally translated it by missadeþs, while misfactor was similarly rendered by missataujands, and similar terms are found in all Germanic languages.

Before mis- took the place of "ex," foris had played that role among the Merovingians. In a Ribuarian law, which is an extension of the Lex Cornelia, it is provided that the highwayman or traducer may be killed, provided the slayer swears at court on the forty-second day that he killed the guilty man for an ex facto, that is, for a crime which makes a person an outlaw. (81) Here the ex facto has been changed to forfactum. If forfactum is the crime which outlaws, forfactotus would be the criminal who commits that crime, hence the title of the Ribuarian law, apparently of a later origin, has the corrupted form forbattutus, (82) which is universally used in certain Merovingian documents which deal with the killing of an outlaw. (83) As for- had the specific meaning "ex, out," the exlex, outlaw, was also known as the forbannitus, and outlawing, banishment was similarly designated as forbannum, (84) where for- corresponds to "ex" and bannum to "lex". If we now turn to the Carta Senomica in which ferbatudo occurs, we find that it is coupled with frodanno, namely "frodanno et forbatudo." We immediately perceive that this is a corruption of "in fredo et ex fadio" of the Salic law, which there was given as the whole composition for a misdeed, while here it is a mere legal formula, apparently not accompanied by the actual composition, for murder in self-defense. We have already seen that the Genoese formula of the 12 cent. for "being in sedition" was "in consilio et facto," where "in facto" grew out of "ex facto" of the Roman law. We have evidence that this formula is much older (85) and that "in consilio" was confused with "ex facto" producing the verb forsconsiliare "to plot against one." (86) This for-, which in French has survived in forfait, has ultimately produced the German prefix ver-, as in verwirken, AS. forwýrcan, etc., which are used as translations of forisfacere, even as misfactum has produced Goth. missadeþs. (87)

I have already pointed out that AS. fáh is a back formation from faehðe, but this shorter form is also recorded in Goth. faih, which has even better preserved the original meaning of faida "dolus," (88) that is of ex facto, hence bi-faihon "to take advantage of." This cannot be separated from ONorse feikn "misdeed," AS. fácen, OS. fêkn, OHG. feihhan "trickery," ONorse feigr, AS. faége, OHG. feigi "outlawed." All these words arise from the enormous importance which the Lex Cornelia has played among the Germans in France, in making them abhor the factio, which even in Rome led to the blood feud.


50. "Nec froda exigenda" (spurious document), Ughelli, Italia sacra, vol. II, col. 244. Back
51. See Ducange, sub forum 2. Back
52. Ughelli, Italia sacra, vol. I, col. 419 (1188). Back
53. Steinmeyer and Sievers, Althochdeutsche Glossen, vol. I, p. 346, vol. IV, p. 416. Back
54. "Inhibuit a plebeis ulterius annonas militares, quas vulgo foderum vocant," Waitz, op. cit., p. 16. Back
55. "Exercitui destinato ordinante illo annonas fecimus secundum forum rerum venalium comparari" (535), Cassiodorus, Variae, X. 18; "et per omnes civitatis legitimus forus et mensuras faciat secundum habundantia temporis" (744), MGH., Capitularia, vol. I, p. 30. Back
56. "Si cuiuslibet de potentibus seruus qui per diuersa possedent de crimine habere suspectus, dominus secrecius cum testibus condicatur ut intra XX noctes ipsum ante iudicem debet praesentare. Quod si institutum tempus, intercedente conuidio, non fuerit praesentatus, ipse dominus statutum sui iusta modum culpe inter fredo et fedo (fretum et feitum, fredo et faido, fredum et foedum) compensetur," Pact. 12; "inter freto et faido sunt MDCCC. din. X," XXXV. 7, cod. 1; "si ei fuit judecatum ut in ex faido et fredo solidos quindece pro ac causa fidem facere debirit" (693), MGH., Dipl., vol. I, p. 59. Back
57. Cod. Theod., VII. 1. Back
58. "Liberis resistendi cunctis tribuimus facultatem: ut quicumque militum, vel priuatorum, ad agros nocturnos populator intrauerit, aut itinere frequentata, insidiis adgressionis obsederit, permissa cuicumque licentia, dignus illico supplicio subiugetur, ac mortem quam minabatur, excipiat, et id quod intendebat, incurrat: melius est enim incurrere in tempore, quam post exitum vindicari; vestram igitur vobis permittimus ultionem, et quos sermo est punire iudicio, subiugamus edicto. Nullus parcat militi, cui obuiari leto oporteat ut latroni," IX. 14. 2. Back
59. IX. 14. 3. Back
60. "Seditionum concitatores vel duces factionum," 1. 6. 9. D. 28. 3. 1. 16. D. 49. 1; "sceleratam inire factionem cum aliquo," 1.5. pr. C. 9. s; "latrones qui factionem habent," 1.11.2.D.48.19. Back
61. "Eruptio factiosa," 1. 2. 3. C. 11; "familia factiosa," 1. 13. 2. D. 39. 4; "factiosus dhmokopoj, newristhj, stasiasthj, polumhcanoj, rixas et scandala gerens, fallax, deceptor, falsus," Corpus glossariorum latinorum. Back
62. XXIV, cod. B. Back
63. "Si quis posthac hominem occidat, ipse sibi portet inimicitiae factionem," II, Ead. 1; "ut omnis tribus illo sit extra factionem, preter solum malefactorem," ibid., 1. 1; "si quisquam cognationis sue firmet eum postea, reus sit omnium que habebit erga regem et portet faidiam (factionem) erga contribuales mortui," ibid., 1. 2; "si ex mortui cognatione quis vindictam perpetret in alium aliquem preter ipsum malefactorem, sit inimicus regis et omnium amicorum eius et perdat omne quicquid habet," ibid., 1. 3. Back
64. Also Aelf. 42; 42. 1, 4; 5. 3; II Aethelst. 20. 7. Back
65. "Si quis factiosus (fahmon, fagmon, gefahmon) incurrat uel ad ecclesiam confugiat," Aelf. 5. Back
66. "De feritas et conpositionis plagarum.....sicut subter adnexum est conponatur, cessante faida hoc est inimicitia," Roth. 45; "ideo maiorem conpositionem posuimus quam antiqui nostri, ut faida, quod est inimicitia, post accepta suprascripta conpositione postponatur," Roth. 74; "nam si mortua fuerit, conponat eam secundum generositatem suam.......cessante faida, ideo quod nolendo fecerunt," Roth. 138; "ita previdimus propter faida posponenda, id est inimicitia pacificanda," Roth. 162; "cessante in hoc capitulo faida quod est inimicitia," Roth. 326; "nolumus ut inimicidias cessent et faida non habeant," Liutp. 119; "et sit causim finita absque faida vel dolus," Liutp. 136. Back
67. MGH., Leges, vol. IV, p. 628 (lib. I, tit. 37). Back
68. "Si per quacumque causa homines rusticani se colligerint, id est concilios et seditionis facere presumpserit," etc. Back
69. "In concilio insuper neque in facto sis ut commune ianue uultabium uel flaconem aut medietatem montis alti amittat" (1130), Monumenta Historiae Patriae, vol. VII, col. 35; "nos iuramus quod ab hoc die in antea non erimus in consilio vel in facto quod commune ianue uel perdat castrum portuueneris" (1139), ibid., col. 64; "factu neque in non ero in consilio neque in facto" (1144), ibid, col. 98 f.; "et non erimus in consilio neque in facto, ut imperator suas duas partes amittat" (1146), ibid., col. 122. Back
70. H. Erman, Conceptio formularum actio in factum, etc., in Zeitschrift für Savignystiftung, vol. XIX, Romanistische Abtheilung, p. 301 ff. For quotations see C. G. Bruns, Fontes iuris romani antiqui, 7th ed., pp. 218, 219, 220, 229, 235, 242. Back
71. "Si mancipium alienum refugium post alium fecerit, id est in fraida," Roth. 275. Back
72. "In facto et freto, sol. XV," XXXV. 6. cod. 3. Back
73. "Si quis hominem per iussionem regis vel duci sou, qui illam provinciam in potestatem habet, occiderit, non requiratur ei nec feidosus (feutosus, feitosus, fehitus, faidosus, feitus, idest gifeh) sit, quia iussio de domino suo fuit, et non potuit contradicere iussionem; sed dux dependat eum et filios eius pro eo; et si dux ille mortuus fuerit, alius dux qui in loco eius accedit, defendat eum," Lex Baiuw., I. 28; "si vero homicida infra patriam est, nec iuret, nec aliquid solvat, sed tantum ut superius faidosus permaneat, donec in gratiam cum propinquis occisi revertatur," Lex Fris., II. 7; "homo faidosus pacem habeat in ecclesia, in domo sua, ad ecclesiam eundo," ibid., Add. I. Back
74. Daremberg and Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquités, sub missus 7. Back
75. "Obsecundatoribus sacrorum scriniorum equorum, ad militare subsidium, ab honoratis proxime venire iussorum, missam faciamus. nullus igitur vel aetati praesenti, vel in relicum, tale si quicquam emerserit, aut equorum oblationibus, aut quibuscunque praeterea, de collatiuo omnium, postulatis, parere cogantur" (382), Cod. Theod. VI 26. 3; "quid in Timaeo etiam arce quadam et quodam philosophiae uertice de anima pronuntiauerit, placitae breuitatis gratia missum facio," A. Engelbrecht, Claudiani Mamerti Opera, Vindobonae 1885, p. 128. Back
76. "Sic ergo ait lectio evangelica cujus in subdito mentionem fecistis. Vos autem dicitis, si dixerit homo patri suo aut matri, corban, id est Haebraica lingua munus illud specialiter quod obsequio devotae oblationis offertur, tibi profuerit, hoc est patri aut matri, et jam non missum facitis eum quidquam facere patri aut matri (Marc. VIII. 11). Puto vos autem hoc sermone ordiri, qui revera ipsum specialius in epistola memorastis, quod vel unde dictum sit, non missum facitis. Quod omnino nihil est aliud quam non dimittitis. A cujus proprietate sermonis, in ecclesia palatiisque sive praetoriis missa fieri pronuntiatur, cum populus ab observatione dimittitur. Nam genus hoc nominis etiam in saecularis auctoribus, nisi memoriam vestram per occupationes lectio desueta subterfugit, invenietis. Ergo non missum facitis, id est, non dimittitis quidquam facere patri vel matri, a quo honorari senio parentiali, non verbis tantum, sed rebus obsequiisque praeceptum est," (6. cent.) Alcimi Ecdicii Aviti Epistolae, in Migne, vol. LIX, col. 199 f. Back
77. "Moris itaque est, hoc post matutinum diluculum mox omnibus patere; post tertiam vero diei horam, emissis omnibus, dato signo, quod est mis, usque in horam nonam cunctis aditum prohibere," Liuthp. v. 9, in Ducange, sub missus. Back
78. "Illis hominibus, qui contra me sic fecerunt sicut scitis, et ad meum fratrem venerunt, propter Deum et propter illius amorem et pro illius gratia totum perdono, quod contra me misfecerunt, et illorum alodes de hereditate ed de conquisitu et quod de donatione nostri senioris habuerunt excepto illo, quod de mea donatione venit, illis concedo" (860) MGH., Capitularia, vol. II, p. 158, also p. 298. Back
79. "Et illi homines, qui in isto regno contra seniorem nostrum dominum Karolum mispriserunt, si se recognoverint, propter Deum et propter fratris sui deprecationem, quicquid contra eum misfecerunt, eis vult indulgere," ibid., p. 299. Back
80. "Si quis hominem super res suas conprehenderit, et eum ligare voluerit, aut super uxorem, aut super filiam, vel his similibus, et non praevaluerit legare, sed colebus ei excesserit, et eum interficerit, coram testibus in quadruvio in clita eum levare debet, et 40 seu 41 noctes custodire, et tunc ante iudice in harao coniurit, quod eum de vita forfactum interfecisset. Sin autem ista non adimpleverit, homicidii culpabilis iudicetur. Aut si negaverit cum legitimo numero iuret, quod hoc non fecisset," LXXVII. Back
81. "De homine furbattudo." Back
82. "Qui vero edictum nostrum ausus fuerit contempnere, in cuiuslibet iudicis pago primitus admissum fuerit, ille iudex collectum solatium ipsum raptorem occidat, et iaceat forbatutus," Childeberti II. Decretum (596), MGH., Capitularia, vol. I, p. 16; "ideo etenim, dum sic veritas conprobaretur, veniens iam dictus ille adprehensam manum vel arma predicti iudicis, sicut most est, apud homines 12, manu sua tertia decima, dextratus vel coniuratus dixit, quod, dum ipse sollemniter sibi ambulabat, iam dictus ille quondam eum malo ordine adsallivit et evaginato gladio super eum venit et super ipsum livores vel capulationes misit et res suas illas ei diripere voluit; et postquam istas presentes livores recepit, necessitate conpulsus ipsum placavit, per quem mortuus iacet; et in sua orta contentione vel in sua movita atque per suas culpas ibidem interfectus fuit; et sic est veritas absque ulla fraude vel coludio, et in sua culpa secundum legem ipsum ferrobattudo fecit," Formula Turonensis 30, in MGH., Formulae, p. 153; "homo alicus nomen ille, ira factus, apud arma sua super me venit et colappus super me misit; et sic miti Deus directum dedit, ego ipso de arma mea percussi, talis colappus ei dedi, per quid ipse mortuus est; et quod feci super me feci. Et ego hodie ipso facio frodanno et ferbatudo infra noctis 42, sicut lex et nostra consuetudo est, apud tris aloarius et 12 conlaudantes," Carta Senonica 17, ibid., p. 192. Back
83. "Ferrebannitus" (561-584), Edictum Childerici, in MGH., Capitularia, vol. I, 9; "de teloneis qui iam antea forbanniti fuerunt" (779), ibid., p. 51; "comes qui latronem in forbanno miserit" (819), ibid., p. 148. Back
84. Cf. the caption in the Lex Alamannorum "de eo qui mortem ducis consiliatus fuerit" and "concilios et seditionis facere," of Roth. 280. Back
85. "Ut nemo suo pari suum regnum, aut suos fideles, vel quod ad salutem et prosperitatem ac honorem regium pertinet, discupiat aut forsconsiliet" (851), MGH., Capitularia, vol. II, p. 72; "nec in vita, nec in membis, neque in regno illorum eos forconsiliabo" (860), ibid.., p. 155; "nec eum in ipsa portione.......decipiet aut forconciliabit" (870), ibid., p. 192. Back
86. I leave for another time the investigation, how much the Goth. prefixes fair and fra represent this Lat. foris. Back
87. "In lege Cornelia dolus pro facto accipitur," Codex Justinianus, 1. 7. D. 48. 8. Back

Index  |  Previous page  |  Next page