Hincmar and his Roman legal sources
in Hincmar of Rheims
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Hincmar is notable for citing Roman legal texts more extensively than his contemporaries. However, the range of sources available to him was limited, mostly deriving from the tradition of the Breviary of Alaric, especially in a form augmented by religious material from Theodosian Code Book 16. Much of this material was mediated through two of his “working” manuscripts (Berlin SB Phillipps 1741 and its derivative BN Par. Lat. 12445), whose contents reflect two active periods of collecting and use, the later 850s and 868-871. The other significant source in the latter period was Julian’s Epitome of the Novels, the principal way Justinianic law was known in the early mediaeval west. For Hincmar, the Roman legal materials were always less important than Biblical or canonical texts, often gaining status only as being laws the church had approved; he was generally less interested in the substantive law of Rome than its procedural rules, which were key tools in his legal disputes, especially in that with Hincmar of Laon. Hincmar was canny at selective quotation to suit his purposes, even to the extent of minor textual emendation.

Hincmar of Rheims

Life and work

Editors: Rachel Stone and Charles West

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