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Medieval Sourcebook:
The Ripuarian Law:
Inheritance of Allodial Land, c. 450

The inheritance of land under the barbarians would mean the inheritance of allodial land (freehold land), and in addition there was inheritance of movables. Among some, women could inherit land equally with men, and in most cases all the children shared in the division of paternal property, even the illegitimate children being included; but the Salic Law says that women may not succeed to land. These laws were mainly codified or amended after the invasions, and represent a fairly settled state of affairs in Western Europe.

Concerning allodial land:

1. If any one die without children, if the father and mother be living, let them succeed to the inheritance.

2. If the father and mother be not living, let brother and sister succeed.

3. But if he have neither of them, let the brother and sister of the mother and father succeed.

4. And finally up to the fifth degree of relationship let him who is nearest succeed to the inheritance. But if the sixth male be living let the female not succeed to the inheritance.


Concerning a man who dies without heirs:

If any one have no sons or daughters, let the husband to his wife, or the wife to her husband, or to any one whatever among relatives or strangers, bequeath in the presence of the king all the property, or (give it) as a gift by a series of writings, or by transfer, and use of witnesses according to the Ripuarian law.


From: Monumenta Germaniae Historiae, Legum, R. Sohm, ed., (Hanover, 1875-1889), Tome V, p. 240; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 334-335.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998