Assignment 1: The Constitution of the Visigoths, AD 654 â€“ Spain
In this first assignment, you are asked to read two selections of what is arguably the first Western constitution, the opening book of the twelve-book Visigothic Code (or, Book of Laws [Liber Iudiciorum]). As you will read in the secondary sources, this massive law code was produced in the middle of the seventh century in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. It was promulgated by the Visigothic King Recceswinth (653-672) in the royal capital of Toledo. The Visigothic Kingdom was a diverse, multi-cultural and multi-religious society that emerged over the course of two centuries after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The Kingdom was defeated and disappear in the early eighth century, after which the peninsula was split into an Islamic caliphate in the south and a collection of small Catholic communities in the north. But, before then, in the seventh century, the Visigoths were producing impressive legal pronouncements, such as the Visigothic Code. Unfortunately, only thirty years after the issuance of the Code, it was revised and a whole new book of anti-Jewish legislation was added. Your task in this module is to analyze the aims of constitution and then evaluate the constitutionality of that new legislation.
Visigothic Code, Book 1 (the constitution) and Book 12.3.
Michael J. Kelly, â€œRecceswinthâ€™s Liber Iudiciorum: History, Narrative and Meaning,â€ Visigothic Symposium 1 (2017): 1-21.
Roger Collins, Visigothic Spain: 409-711 (London: Blackwell, 2004), 223-227.
1. What is the law intended to be, for what purposes, and how is it to function, according to
the opening constitution of the Visigothic Code?
2. In the closing book of the revised Code (Book 12.3), how do we see law actually be presented? Does the anti-Jewish legislation fit within the bounds of the constitutional framework of the Code, or, in other words, was the anti-Jewish legislation constitutional?