"A significant addition to the texts of later medieval European law available in English."—Paul Brand, All Souls College, Oxford, and Institute of Historical Research, LondonThe Sachsenspiegel, or Saxon Mirror, compiled in 1235 by Eike von Repgow, may be said to mark the beginning of vernacular German jurisprudence. For the first time, Maria Dobozy offers an English translation of this influential lawbook, the oldest, and most important, set of customary law in the German language.
This lawbook with its amendments marks a major shift in the history of German law from purely oral authority and transmission to a written documentation that allowed greater consistency in legal procedure. The reception of the lawbook was vast. It was rapidly adapted across Germany, as the four hundred manuscript versions demonstrate. Beyond Germany, it was copied as the paradigm for lawbooks in Prussia, Silesia, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, and Bohemia. These codes of law became the standard for over three hundred years.
The Sachsenspiegel contains a compilation of the legal practices at the time in Saxony, an ethnically mixed territory, and encompasses the legal customs and procedures that regulated the daily life of peasants and landlords. It is a multidimensional resource for anyone seeking insight into German and Central European culture in art, literature, linguistics, literacy, law, ethnic diversity, women, and the Bible.
Maria Dobozy is Professor of German and Medieval Literature at the University of Utah.