The Usatges of Barcelona: The Fundamental Law of Catalonia

The Usatges of Barcelona: The Fundamental Law of Catalonia

The Usatges of Barcelona: The Fundamental Law of Catalonia

The Usatges of Barcelona: The Fundamental Law of Catalonia

Excerpt

Law is a systematic force that humans create in order to regulate both public and private social relations. One may be said to "possess" a law if the applicability of the law depends on individual status or membership in a particular society; one may be said to be "subject to" a law if the applicability of the law is universal throughout a specific territory. The difference betweeen "personal" and "territorial" law characterizes much of late antique and medieval legal and social history.

From the fifth century of the Common Era, territorial law of the Roman Empire was replaced in many of the new Germanic kingdoms by the personal laws of the different groups that constituted these kingdoms. Roman law itself became the "personal" law of provincial Romans. The personal character of the "folk laws" later changed to accommodate the newer "feudal" relations between lords and vassals. From the twelfth century, the intricate and learned old territorial law of Rome was rediscovered. The study of the imperial codes began to undermine the older laws of personal status, the rules governing the relations between lord and vassal, and the essentially oral method of preserving and transmitting the older law. Kings and princes, served by men trained in the Italian or southern French centers of education in the Roman law, readily turned to the systematic and highly articulated jurisprudence of imperial Rome as a conceptual base that could be used to override or outflank older folk or feudal strictures.

Under this influence, much of Europe shifted from "personal" legal . . .

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