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Law of the Salian Franks

Title I: Concerning Summonses

  1. If any one be summoned before the “Thing” by the king’s law, and do not come, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings (solidi).
  2. But he who summons another, and does not come himself, shall, if a lawful impediment have not delayed him, be sentenced to 15 shillings, to be paid to him whom he summoned.

Title XI: Concerning Thefts or Housebreakings of Freemen

  1. If any freeman steal, outside of the house, something worth 2 denars, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
  2. But if he steal, outside of the house, something worth 40 denars, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced, besides the amount and the fines for delay, to 1400 denars, which make 35 shillings.
  3. If a freeman break into a house and steal something worth 2 denars, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 15 shillings.
  4. But if he shall have stolen something worth more than 5 denars, and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced, besides the worth of the object and the fines for delay, to 1400 denars, which make 35 shillings.
  5. But if he have broken, or tampered with, the lock, and thus have entered the house and stolen anything from it, he shall be sentenced, besides the worth of the object and the fines for delay, to 1800 denars, which make 45 shillings.
  6. And if he have taken nothing, or have escaped by flight, he shall, for the housebreaking alone, be sentenced to 1200 denars, which make 30 shillings.

Title XVII: Concerning Wounds

  1. If any one have wished to kill another person, and the blow have missed, he on whom it was proved shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
  2. If any person have wished to strike another with a poisoned arrow, and the arrow have glanced aside, and it shall be proved on him: he shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.
  3. If any person strike another on the head so that the brain appears, and the three bones which lie above the brain shall project, he shall be sentenced to 1200 denars, which make 30 shillings.
  4. But if it shall have been between the ribs or in the stomach, so that the wound appears and reaches to the entrails, he shall be sentenced to 1200 denars-which make 30 shillings-besides five shillings for the physician’s pay.
  5. If any one shall have struck a man so that blood falls to the floor, and it be proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 600 denars, which make 15 shillings.
  6.  But if a freeman strike a freeman with his fist so that blood does not flow, he shall be sentenced for each blow-up to 3 blows-to 120 denars, which make 3 shillings.

Title XXIV: Concerning the Killing of Little Children and Women

  1. If any one have slain a boy under 10 years-up to the end of the tenth-and it shall have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
  2. If any one have hit a free woman who is pregnant, and she dies, he shall be sentenced to 28000 denars, which makes 700 shillings.
  3. If any one have killed a free woman after she has begun bearing children, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
  4. After she can have no more children, he who kills her shall be sentenced to 8000 denars, which make 200 shillings.

Title XXX: Concerning Insults

  1. If any one, man or woman, shall have called a woman harlot, and a not have been able to prove it, he shall be sentenced to 1800 denars, which make 45 shillings.
  2. If any person shall have called another “fox,” he shall be sentenced to 3 shillings.
  3. If any man shall have called another “hare,” he shall be sentenced to 3 shillings.

Title XLI: Concerning the Murder of Freemen

  1. If any one shall have killed a free Frank, or a barbarian living under the Salic law, and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 8000 denars.
  2. But if he shall have thrown him into a well or into the water, or shall have covered him with branches or anything else, to conceal him, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
  3. But if any one has slain a man who is in the service of the king, he shall be sentenced to 24000 denars, which make 600 shillings.
  4. But if he have put him in the water or in a well, and covered him with anything to conceal him, he shall be sentenced to 72000 denars, which make 1800 shillings.
  5. If any one have slain a Roman who eats in the king’s palace, and it have been proved on him, he shall be sentenced to 12000 denars, which make 300 shillings.
  6. But if the Roman shall not have been a landed proprietor and table companion of the king, he who killed him shall be sentenced to 4000 denars, which make 100 shillings.

Title LXII: Concerning Wergeld

  1. If any one’s father have been killed, the sons shall have half the compounding money (wergeld); and the other half the nearest relatives, as well on the mother’s as on the father’s side, shall divide among themselves.
  2. But if there are no relatives, paternal or maternal, that portion shall go to the fisc.

from “The Salic Law,” in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 176-189.

Perfecting Humanity

One aspect of the Progressive Era was the popularity of eugenics—selective reproduction to improve humanity. Indiana was the first state in the United States (and one of the first places in the world) to establish laws to determine whether or not the physically and mentally ill or disabled should be allowed to reproduce. This law was controversial from its inception. Signed into law by Indiana Governor J. Frank Hanly, its enforcement was blocked by the subsequent governor, Thomas R. Marshall. The law was found unconstitutional by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921.
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The Immigration Debate

Immigration of various peoples to the United States had been a subject of fierce debate since the earliest days of the nation. In the 1920s, the United States enacted the most sweeping immigration restrictions in its history. Since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the sentiment had been to regulate not only how many immigrants came to the United States but where they came from as well. The immigration legislation of the 1920s–chiefly the Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924, aimed to limit immigration from “undesirable” areas, such as southern and eastern Europe.
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Church Regulations for Geneva

Concerning the Times of Assembling at Church

That the temples be closed for the rest of the time, in order that no one shall enter therein out of hours, impelled thereto by superstition ; and if anyone be found engaged in any special act of devotion therein or near by he shall be admonished for it: if it be found to be of a superstitious nature for which simple correction is inadequate then he shall he be chastised.

Blasphemy.

Whoever shall have blasphemed, swearing by the body or by the blood of our Lord, or in similar manner, he shall be made to kiss the earth for the first offence ; for the second to pay 5 sous, and for the third 6 sous, and for the last offence be put in the pillory for one hour.

Drunkenness.

  1. That no one shall invite another to drink under penalty of 3 sous.
  2. That taverns shall be closed during the sermon, under penalty that the tavern -keeper shall pay 3 sous, and whoever may be found therein shall pay the same amount.
  3. If anyone be found intoxicated he shall pay for the first offence 3 sous and shall be remanded to the consistory ; for the second offence he shall he held to pay the sum of 6 sous, and for the third 10 sous and be put in prison.
  4. That no one shall make roiaumes [a big party] under penalty of 10 sous.

If anyone sings immoral, dissolute or outrageous songs, or dance the virollet or other dance, he shall be put in prison for three days and then sent to the consistory.

Usury.
That no one shall take upon interest or profit more than five per cent., upon penalty of confiscation of the principal and of being con-demned to make restitution as the case may demand.

Games.
That no one shall play at any dissolute game or at any game whatsoever it may be, neither for gold nor silver nor for any excessive stake, upon penalty of 5 sous and forfeiture of stake played for.

Questions for consideration:

  1. How do these rules go beyond religious matters?
  2. What types of behavior seemed to be the most objectionable in these regulations?

The Early Middle Ages

After the decline of Rome in the West, various “barbarian” kingdoms emerged. One of these, the kingdom of the Franks, became dominant in what is now France and Germany. Its first dynasty, that of the Merovingian and, later, the stronger Carolingian Dynasty.
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Excerpts from the law code of the Hittites

The Hitties were a tribal, nomadic people who emerged from the Anatolia plateau in the 17th century BCE to establish a large regional state, capturing many of the city states of Sumeria. This selection from their extensive law code focuses on issues of sex and gender.
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