DRYAKHLOV V.N. The “True Evidence” in the Perception of the Lex Salica

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2018.6.8

Vladimir N. Dryakhlov

Candidate of Sciences (History), Associate Professor of Department of Theory and History of State and Law,

Volgo-Vyatka Institute (Branch) of Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL),

Lenina St., 99, 610002 Kirov, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The text of the Lex Salica (Salic Law) presents us the form of the contestable trial, widely spread in the barbarian kingdoms. The main question, which was discussed by the judges and people in the judicial assembly was connected with the evaluation of the proof of guilt. Methods and materials. Russian researchers traditionally rely on the definition of the proof of guilt based on the opinion formulated by Z. Chernilovsky who included witness testimony, compurgators’ oaths and ordeals in the definition. Important opinions of foreign researchers include R. Zohm’s conclusion that witness testimony was the main proof of lawfulness of the plaintiff’s demands, and K. F. Drew’s opinion (based on the conclusion that kinship played a major role in those days) that compurgation and ordeal were decisive factors for the proof of guilt. Analysis. Сompurgator kinsmen argued not in favor or against specific facts, but confirmed that the accused and their oath of innocence were trustworthy. Ordeal was never used as a standalone legal measure, but only as an alternative, where the accused had to stand trial with a boiling kettle or buy out his hand and produce compurgators. Proof of guilt by witness testimony has a priority in the Salic Law, with far more frequent mentions than compurgators or ordeal. Results. The analysis of the articles of the Salic Law containing such phrases as “be he held culpable” or “a true evidence” makes it possible to expand the list of incriminating facts with, first of all, material evidence (mostly a stolen object with an owner’s mark or distinguishing characteristics) that served to incriminate the offender. In addition to that, a number of articles contain explicit references to the use of admission of guilt (usually, when there was no wilful intent) and survivors’ testimony as a proof of guilt of accomplices in crime.

Key words: Lex Salica, guilt, proof of guilt, “true evidence”, contestable trial.

Citation. Dryakhlov V.N. The “True Evidence” in the Perception of the Lex Salica. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2018, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 116-123. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2018.6.8.

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The “True Evidence” in the Perception of the Lex Salica by Dryakhlov V.N. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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