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Hincmar and his Roman legal sources

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Corcoran


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Hincmar is notable for citing Roman legal texts more extensively than his contemporaries. However, the range of sources available to him was limited, mostly deriving from the tradition of the Breviary of Alaric, especially in a form augmented by religious material from Theodosian Code Book 16. Much of this material was mediated through two of his “working” manuscripts (Berlin SB Phillipps 1741 and its derivative BN Par. Lat. 12445), whose contents reflect two active periods of collecting and use, the later 850s and 868-871. The other significant source in the latter period was Julian’s Epitome of the Novels, the principle way Justinianic law was known in the early mediaeval west. For Hincmar, the Roman legal materials were always less important than Biblical or canonical texts, often gaining status only as being laws the church had approved. Further, except where encapsulating church privilege, the substantive law of Rome generally mattered less than its procedural rules, which were key tools in legal disputes, as in that with Hincmar of Laon. Finally, although eschewing the Isidorian forgery tradition, Hincmar was canny at selective quotation to suit his purposes, even to the extent of minor textual emendation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Corcoran S

Editor(s): Stone R; West C;

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Hincmar of Rheims : Life and Work

Year: 2015

Pages: 129-155

Print publication date: 01/08/2015

Acceptance date: 01/09/2013

Publisher: Manchester University Press

Place Published: Manchester


Notes: This chapter appears in a volume based upon contributions to the Hincmar sessions at the Leeds International Medieval Congress held in July 2012.

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781526106544