Law codes of the Frisians and the Saxons



The Frisians got their Lex Frisionum -“the law of the Frisians” around  the year 790 by matter of Karl the Great

The people of Old Saxony – The Saksen / Saxons didn’t get less then 3 lawbooks. In chronological order these are:

– the Capitulatio de partibus Saxionae (CPS) meaning: the lawbook concerning the Saksen

– the Capitulare Saxonicum (CS) – The Lawbook of the Saksen / Saxon people

– the Lex Saxonum (LS) – The Saxon lawbook

I will now point out a few parts of these laws that are tied to the religion of the people living in Old Saxony (Saksenland). In the first article, the lawgiver compares the Saxon sanctuaries with the christian churches that at that time were build in the conquered parts of Old Saxony. The new churches must have a higher status for the converts then the heathen sanctuaries.

The second article grants a right of asylum to the christian church building. When a criminal seeks his refuge there, his life must be spared. About the further punishment nothing is mentioned.

Article 3 to 13 make a numeration of all crimes that must be punished with death:

– burglary in and theft from a church

– arson in a church

– the consuming of flesh during fasting

– the killing of a bishop, priest or deacon


The sixth article acts against the burning of heathen wizards and sorceresses and also against the cannibalism, whereby certain parts of the human body were used for consumption.  The translation of this article goes as follows:

“Who lets him by the devil (=source of all evil) be misguided and after heathen custom believes that a man or woman is a sorcerer and eats people, and therefor burns them or distributes their flesh for consumption / eats it himself – will be punished by death.

The believing in sorcerers and soothsayers, that were many with the Saxon people, is also punishable by this law.

The seventh article focussed on the burning of corpses, which still occured in the ending of the 8th century with the Saxons. From excavations is provedthat the Saxons started burrying their death from the 5th century onward, but in the beginning only the nobles did that. Article 22 backs that up and formulates as following:

“We command that the corpses of the christian Saxons will be brought to the cemetaries and not to the hills of the heathens.”

Article 9 prohibits the bringing of human offers. Almost certain it refers to a ritual which still existed in the 8th century, namely the killing of slaves and other servants to use their dead bodies as gravegifts for a king or noble. From archaeological research it is poven that this ritual in the end of the 8th century must have become outdated.

The most fargoing and also most cited article from the CPS is the eighth, in which the refusal of baptism and the perseverance in the heathenry will be punished by death. This article contributed to the fact that the christianization of the Saksen was qualified as “baptism or death” and “preaching with iron tongue, with the sword.”

Article 10 is in it’s harshness not much milder:

“When someone with heathens plots a plan against christians, or persists with them in enmity/hatred against christians, he shall be punished by death – and who consents with such insidious/malicious act against the king and the christianfolk, thy shalt be punished by death.”
Article 14 wants to takeback a littlebit of that harshness:

“However, when someone has committed these crimes that carry the death penalty, without being recognised, voluntarily seeks refuge with a priest and confesses and does penitence, then he will not get the death penalty with the testimony of the priest.” – And again it does not say which punishment WILL be given…

Article 17 about the Thenths/Tienden/Tithe:

“In the same manner we prescribe in accordance to the divine command, that all the 10th of their capital and their labour have to be given to the church and the clergy, and both the nobles as also the free and half-free; because what God donates to the christians, must partially be given back to God.”

Articles 21 and 23 have a direct relation to rituals and states that were not yet eliminated:

“Who after heathen custom at springs, trees or sacred forests does vows, or according to heathen custom offers and organizes a communal meal to honour the idols, pays as noble 60, as free 30, as half-free 15 solidi. And if he does not have that money, he must work in service of the church.”

“The soothsayers and sorcerers must be extradited to churches and pastors”

The last article forbids the traditional Saxon FolkThing and also the jurisdiction as it functioned in Saksenland / Old Saxony.


The Capitulare Saxonicum is a milder version of the Capitulatio de partibus Saxionae
Article 7 mentions the paying of Wergeld when a kings-messenger was killed, and article 24 said that the one that plotted plans to kill the king (Karl) or his sons would be punished by death.

Most quoted clause from the CS is where the death penalty is sued to the one that steals a beehive which stands on a fenced terrain. But for the sense of justice  at that time the violation on the territory of someone else worse then to reave someones possession. For stealing a beehive in the open field, the punishment was much milder.

That the CS was milder then the CPS is also shown by the option to appeal with the king against the punishment. One of the alternative punishments of the king was that he would deport the criminal with his wife, kids and staff – whereby they lost all rights.




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Interested in germanic heathenry, lore, original fairy- and folktales, shamanism and lots of other related worldly stuff. I walk and cycle alot in nature, read, play various instruments etc.

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