THE LIBRARY OF IBERIAN RESOURCES

The Visigothic Code: (Forum judicum)

ed. S. P. Scott



Book III: Concerning Marriage

Title V: Concerning Incest, Apostasy, and Pederasty

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I. Concerning Incestuous and Adulterous Marriages General.
II. Concerning Incestuous and Adulterous Marriages and Debauchery, either with Holy Virgins, or with Widows and other Women while doing Penance.
III. Concerning Men and Women who Illegally Assume the Tonsure and Dress of Religious Orders.
IV. Concerning the Restraint of Fraud Peculiar to Widows.
V. Concerning Pederasty.
VI. Concerning Sodomy, and the Manner in which the Law should be Enforced.
VII. Concerning Adultery committed with the Concubine of a Father, or a Brother.

FLAVIUS CHINTASVINTUS, KING.
I. Concerning Incestuous and Adulterous Marriages in General.

No one shall marry, or maintain incestuous relations with, any woman belonging to the family of his father, or his mother, or of his grandfather, or his grandmother; or with the betrothed of his brother, or the widow of any of his relatives. Therefore, it shall not be lawful to defile the blood of such as are related even to the sixth degree, either by marriage or otherwise; those persons only being excepted, who have been married with the permission of the king, before the making of this law, and the said persons shall, in no way, be affected by its provisions. This law shall also apply to women. If any person should violate it, the judge shall immediately order them to be separated, and shall cause them to be placed in monasteries, according to their sex, there to perform perpetual penance. The disposition of the property of these offenders has been provided for by another law.
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FLAVIUS RECESVINTUS, KING.
II. Concerning Incestuous and Adulterous Marriages and Debauchery, either with Holy Virgins, or with Widows and other Women while doing Penance.

It is our royal duty to promulgate laws to be enforced throughout all the provinces of our kingdom, to the end that crime may be prevented in the future, and that justice may put an end to the deeds of the wicked many persons, in defiance of the admonitions of the Divine Law, and in opposition to the honorable duties of life, are accustomed, either by violence, or with consent, to contract marriage with virgins who have been devoted in the service of God, and have taken the vow of chastity with the benediction of the priest and according to the canons of the Church; or with other women nearly related to themselves; and, in this way, have polluted with vice that chastity which was dedicated to God, or which should have been respected on account of the ties of consanguinity. Such conduct, whether it relates to men or women, is both abhorrent to good morals, and a reproach to the True Faith. Therefore, in the name of God and the Holy Catholic Church, we decree that, hereafter, as is also provided by the ecclesiastical canons, no one, either by force or consent, shall take as a wife, any virgin devoted to God, or any widow who has assumed the habit of any order; or any one who is performing penance; or any near relative of their own; or any one with whom his connection might be branded with infamy; because that cannot be a true marriage, which from good becomes evil, and which, under a false name, nothing more than incest and fornication. And if any other persons in our kingdom should attempt to commit a crime of this kind, they shall be separated, and condemned to perpetual exile, at the instance of the judge or priest, even if no one should accuse them; nor shall any time which may have elapsed, be pleaded in their defense.

The property of such persons which has been seized for the crime, shall belong to the children of a former marriage; and if there should be no such children, to those born of this [108] marriage, and the latter shall not be liable to reproach on this account, for those who are born out of wedlock are purified by the ceremony of baptism. But if there should be no children whatever, the inheritance shall descend to those to whom the provisions of former laws have given legitimate succession. The same regulation shall apply to persons in orders, whom the Canon Law forbids to marry.

Those women are excepted from this decree who have been forced into marriage, and have not subsequently given their consent thereto. Any judge, or priest, who is aware that such an offence has been committed, and neglects to punish it, shall be compelled to pay five pounds of gold to the royal treasury: and, in case he should not be able or willing to inflict such punishment, he shall bring the matter before the king, in order that he may impose the penalty which is not in the power of the magistrate or priest to inflict.

FLAVIUS CHINTASVINTUS, KING.
III. Concerning Men and Women who Illegally Assume the Tonsure and Dress of Religious Orders.

We should eradicate the reproach of apostasy, in order that we may enjoy the favor of God. For if we think it is an evidence of piety to punish sins of less importance, to a much greater extent should we visit with severe censure any crime committed against the Divine Power. Therefore, we decree by this law, which shall remain perpetually in force hereafter, that whoever adopts the dress of a religious order, and assumes the honorable mark of the tonsure, either for the purpose of performing penance, or through the pious wishes of parents, and without any suspicion of fraud; or through their own will and devotion to the Church; and afterwards, apostatizing, resumes intercourse with the laity; shall, at the instance of any one, be brought again by force under the control of the religious order to which they belong, and, branded with infamy, shall be forever confined in monasteries, and subjected to the severest penance. In cases of this kind, indulgence shall only be shown to those who have been influenced [109] by the deceit of others, or such as have returned to the order of their own accord; provided that among such persons a man has not taken another wife, or a woman another husband. And those also shall be exempt from the operation of this law, who assumed their vows when they neither knew what they were doing, nor remembered what they had done. The property of persons practicing such deception shall belong to their sons and their relatives, as follows: if the man is married and has children, and should have received any gift from his wife, it shall be transferred to her, and, after her death, shall descend to their children. But if she should be dead, or they should have no children, the lawful heirs of the offender shall have the property. But whatever, at any time, the husband receive through his wife, shall belong to her nearest heirs.

This law shall also apply to women for instance, where any virgin or widow, as a penitent lays aside the clothing of the laity, and afterwards resumes it; or marries; she shall undergo the same penalty and loss of property as has been decreed concerning men, to wit: the children and heirs of such a woman shall have her property. The relatives of a husband, however, shall be entitled to any gift previously presented by him to his wife. And, since women are more frequently involved in the fraud of apostasy, we hereby decree that whatever should be given by a man to his betrothed, or to his wife, before or after the nuptials, by way of dowry, shall belong, not to the heirs of the wife, but to the heirs of him wh gave the dowry. Persons guilty of such offences shall not have the right to accuse any one, or to testify, or to transact any business whatever in court; because those cannot be trusted in secular matters, who have been proved guilty of sacrilege in affairs relating to our Holy Religion.

FLAVIUS EGICA, KING.
IV. Concerning the Restraint of Fraud Peculiar to Widows.

Certain widows are accustomed to shrewdly mingle fraud with devotion, and, by the union of religious and secular garments, give themselves an opportunity for transgression at [110] their will. Thus, during the time of their mourning, they put on a religious dress; and, afterwards, for purposes of deception, put on other garments under the religious habit; and for this reason, to those who see them, appear other than what they are. Wherefore, that an end may be put to fraud of this kind, we decree, by this law, that hereafter, when any widow wishes to excuse herself for practicing this deception, that within she wears one kind of dress, and outside another; that portion which is visible, and which she has assumed for purposes of duplicity, shall be considered as designating her as a member of a religious order, and thus, not what she has adopted for the commission of sin, but what the eyes of every one perceive, is to be accepted as the sign of her religious profession. Any widow who, hereafter, attempts to excuse herself in this way, shall not only be subject to the penalties of the law, but shall also undergo the punishment prescribed by the canons of the Church, and shall not escape the justice of the king.

FLAVIUS CHINTASVINTUS, KING.
V. Concerning Pederasty.

That crime must not be unpunished which, in the violation of morality, has always been considered most execrable; we therefore decree, in cases of pederasty, where their guilt has been proved after proper investigation by the judge, that both parties shall be emasculated without delay, and be delivered up to the bishop of the diocese where the deed was committed to be placed in solitary confinement in a prison; so that, against their will, they may expiate the crime which they are convicted of having voluntarily perpetrated.

If, however, any one should have been forced to commit this horrible offence, and is proved to have done so unwillingly, he shall then not be liable to punishment, if the person who discovered the crime should be present as a witness; but he who engaged in it voluntarily shall undergo the full penalty. The children, or legitimate heirs of married men who have been found guilty of this crime, shall have their property; and shall be lawful for their wives, having received back [111] their dowries, and retaining all their possessions, to afterwards marry whomsoever they will.

FLAVIUS EGICA, KING.
VI. Concerning Sodomy, and the Manner in which the Law should be Enforced.

The doctrine of the orthodox faith requires us to place our censure upon vicious practices, and to restrain those who are addicted to carnal offences. For we counsel well for the benefit of our people and our country, when we take measures to utterly extirpate the crimes of wicked men, and put an end to the evil deeds of vice. For this reason we shall attempt to abolish the horrible crime of sodomy, which is as contrary to Divine precept as it is to chastity. And although the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and the censure of earthly laws, alike, prohibit offences of this kind, it is nevertheless necessary to condemn them by a new decree; lest if timely correction be deferred, still greater vices may arise. Therefore, we establish by this law, that if any man whosoever, of any age, or race, whether he belongs to the clergy, or to the laity, should be convicted, by competent evidence, of the commission of the crime of sodomy, he shall, by order of the king, or of any judge, not only suffer emasculation, but also the penalty prescribed by ecclesiastical decree for such offences, and promulgated in the third year of our reign.

FLAVIUS CHINTASVINTUS, KING.
VII. Concerning Adultery committed with the Concubine of a Father, or a Brother.

It was decreed by a former law, what should be done in cases where incest was committed by persons related by blood. And because it is not of less importance that the bed of the father or brother be not polluted, we command, in addition, that no blood relative of theirs shall ever commit adultery with either the concubine of his father or his brother, nor with any one whom he knew his father or his brother had [112] ever sustained intimate relations with, whether she be a free-woman or a slave; nor shall the father commit such adultery with the concubine of his son. And if any one should knowingly commit such an offence, his heirs, should he have no legitimate children, shall obtain his property; and he himself shall be subjected to penance, and shall undergo the punishment of perpetual exile.