Collection of Laws


This manuscript of Fuero Juzgo from the collections of the National Library of Sweden dates from around 1300 and is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of this text in Castilian. The Fuero Juzgo (“collection of laws”) was in principle a translation of the former Visigothic law code Liber Iudiciorum, or Lex Visigothorum, from 654, which after the Reconquista was first applied as local law in the reconquered regions. It was promulgated by King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1241 and used until the end of the 19th century, when it was replaced by the Spanish Civil Code. The Visigoths had a long and, for all of the regions they influenced, important history as lawmakers. The foundation for their written law was Roman law, but Visigothic law also was strongly influenced by Roman Catholic Canon law. Even during the centuries of Muslim rule, Christians were permitted to use Visigothic law, as long as it did not conflict with Muslim law. The Stockholm manuscript is on paper and comprises 169 leaves. It is decorated with two miniatures, one showing the Visigothic king Sisenand (reigned, 631‒36) as legislator and another illustrating a violation of the right of asylum. The manuscript was bought in Madrid in 1690 by the Swedish philologist, linguist, and diplomat Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655‒1727). It previously was owned by the Spanish statesman Conde-Duque de Olivares (1587‒1645). Sparwenfeld had been charged by the king of Sweden to acquire in foreign countries remnants from the time of the Goths, as they were considered ancestors of the Swedes. When Sparwenfeld did not receive reimbursement for his expenses, he retained the books he acquired, which he donated in 1705 to the Royal Library (National Library of Sweden) and to the University Library in Uppsala.

Last updated: February 18, 2016