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Council of Worms:
On the Murder of Slaves, 876

To prevent the murder of slaves severe penances were inflicted by the Council of Worms. In the second instance below, female serfs or slaves were given some protection against the jealousy of suspicious wives.

38. If any one shall kill his own slave without the knowledge of the judges---a slave who has committed such thing as may be worthy of death---he shall emend the guilt of blood by excommunication or by a penance for two years.

39. If any woman incensed by a fit of jealousy should beat her slave, so that within three days she [the slave] should die in torment, so that it be uncertain whether she killed her intentionally or by accident, she shall do lawful penance for five years, if it be by chance, but for seven years if she do it intentionally.


J. D. Mansi, ed., Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, (Paris: H. Welter, 1902), Vol. XV, p. 876; 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), p. 285.

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

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

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, October 1998