Presentation Type

Oral presentation-Paper

Session Title

Literature Presentations II

Abstract

Although at first glance the practices of oathtaking mentioned in the Lombard Laws and the legal function of Anglo-Saxon wills or testaments may seem different, in fact they often serve the same or very similar purposes. In the Lombard Laws, it is explicitly mentioned that one who swears an oath is expected to carry out the stipulations or actions for which he made himself obligated by swearing such a pledge. In the same way, one named as executor of a will is expected by the maker of the will, or testator, to fully carry out the instructions in the will. By accepting their role, the executor is acknowledging their role and the obligations that go with it, becoming responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased. Of particular note are the anathema clauses of wills which promise that great ill shall befall an executor or any individuals that knowingly go against the explicitly-stated wishes of the deceased; such a person can be seen as an oathbreaker, and their punishment is to be tormented in hell for all eternity. The religious connotation of oath-swearing can also be seen in the Lombard Laws, where oaths were often required to be sworn on the sacred gospels or on consecrated arms, and where the influence of the Christian faith can clearly be seen. Additionally, during the Middle Ages there were severe consequences for those who break oaths, such as oaths of fealty sworn to lords or the king, and those that broke such oaths were considered felons, and made outcasts to the effect that anyone was legally able to kill them without consequence.

Start Date

29-4-2017 12:20 PM

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Apr 29th, 12:20 PM

Will Executors as Oath-Takers: A Comparison of the Lombard Laws and Wills in the Middle Ages

Although at first glance the practices of oathtaking mentioned in the Lombard Laws and the legal function of Anglo-Saxon wills or testaments may seem different, in fact they often serve the same or very similar purposes. In the Lombard Laws, it is explicitly mentioned that one who swears an oath is expected to carry out the stipulations or actions for which he made himself obligated by swearing such a pledge. In the same way, one named as executor of a will is expected by the maker of the will, or testator, to fully carry out the instructions in the will. By accepting their role, the executor is acknowledging their role and the obligations that go with it, becoming responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased. Of particular note are the anathema clauses of wills which promise that great ill shall befall an executor or any individuals that knowingly go against the explicitly-stated wishes of the deceased; such a person can be seen as an oathbreaker, and their punishment is to be tormented in hell for all eternity. The religious connotation of oath-swearing can also be seen in the Lombard Laws, where oaths were often required to be sworn on the sacred gospels or on consecrated arms, and where the influence of the Christian faith can clearly be seen. Additionally, during the Middle Ages there were severe consequences for those who break oaths, such as oaths of fealty sworn to lords or the king, and those that broke such oaths were considered felons, and made outcasts to the effect that anyone was legally able to kill them without consequence.