The Northern Way

The Law of the Westgoths

Corpus juris Sueogotorum antiqui

from the Old Swedish

The Svear have a right to accept and depose a King. He shall travel with safe-conduct from the upper country into Ostergotland. Then he shall send messengers hither to the Thing of all Goths. Then the lawmen shall appoint as hostages two men from the southern and two from the northern part of the land. Afterwards four other men of the land shall work with them. They shall meet at Junaback. The hostages from Ostergotland shall follow thither and testify that he, the king, is a native, as their laws provide, and that he has been accepted by them as king.

Then the Thing of all the Goths shall provide a welcome for him. When he arrives at the Thing he shall swear loyalty to all Goths and affirms that he will not break any right laws of our land. Then shall the lawmen first proclaim him king, and then others whomsoever he may ask to do so. The king shall then restore liberty to three men, who have not committed a felony.

If a bishop is to be appointed, the king shall ask all the inhabitants of the land whom they wish to have. He must be the son of a freeholder. Then the king shall put a staff in his hand and give him a golden ring. Thereupon he shall be conducted into the church and placed in the bishop's chair. He shall then have full power without his consecration having yet taken place.

(this is the old means of appointment of the Thing Gothi)

A lawman shall be the son of a freeholder. For this reason all freeholders shall have authority by the grace of god. The king has the power vested in him to hold a court of justice at the Assembly, and so has the lawman. It is always called the Thing of the Goths if a lawman is present. There people may establish or adopt legal family lineage and proclaim reconciliations.

The defendant always has the right of witness (to free himself by oath), and the nearest of kin has the right of inheritance.