Euric’s Code, which also goes by Code of Euric or the Latin name of Codex Euricianus, was put together by the king of the Visigoths then occupying what is now Spain and Aquitaine, Southern France.

The Visigoths were sent to live in this area by the Romans to serve as a buffer population and to thus defend the northern border of the Roman homeland, present-day Italy but under King Euric, the Visigoth demanded and were given independence in 475.

Scott writes:

"The original Goths were typical savages. They had practically no political organization; dressed in skins; disdained all labor; showed no mercy to their enemies; killed their parents, when they became old and infirm; had few religious ideas; worshiped a drawn sword as a divinity; were filthy [viii] in their personal habits; and recognized only the law of the strongest. From such unpromising progenitors was derived the race destined to be, in large measure, the lawgivers of Europe."

Euric employed the renowned Roman jurist Leo to write out the customs and tribal laws of his people as they existed with numerous accommodations made to Roman law.

Euric’s Code is believed to have been published in about 480 which makes it, chronologically, the first law code of the Germanic people then occupying western Europe, soon to be followed by others such as the Salic Laws, the Burgundian Code and Lex Rebvaria. There is circumstantial evidence that an earlier code may have existed, that enacted by Euric’s father, Theoderic I (419-451), but no copy ever found.

Historian Roger Collins wrote that only incomplete copies of Euric’s Code survive, all written in Latin. Thus, he writes: ".. the date, origins and purpose of the Code of Euric remain controversial."

Isodore of Seville, in his Historia Gothorum wrote of Euric’s Code that:

"… under this king, the Goths began to have ordinances of the laws in writing, for before this they were bound by customs and habit.

REFERENCES:

  • Collins, Roger, A History of Spain - Visigothic Spain 409-711 (London: Blackwell Publishing, 1994).
  • Scott, F. P., The Visigothic Code: (Forum judicum)