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April 11 , 2010

The Danish Medieval Laws

the laws of Scania, Zealand and Jutland


The Danish medieval laws: the laws of Scania, Zealand and Jutland contains translations of the four most important medieval Danish laws written in the vernacular. The main texts are those of the Law of Scania, the two laws of Zealand – Valdemar’s and Erik’s – and the Law of Jutland, all of which date from the early thirteenth century. The Church Law of Scania and three short royal ordinances are also included. These provincial laws were first written down in the first half of the thirteenth century and were in force until 1683, when they were replaced by a national law. The laws, preserved in over 100 separate manuscripts, are the first extended texts in Danish and represent a first attempt to create a Danish legal language.

The book starts with a brief but thorough introduction to the history of Denmark in the thirteenth century, covering the country, the political setting and the legal context in which the laws were written. There follows the translated text from each province, preceded by a general introduction to each area and an introduction to the translation offering key contextual information and background on the process of translating the laws. An Old Danish-English glossary is also included, along with an annotated glossary to support the reading of the translations.

This book will be essential reading for students and scholars of medieval Scandinavian legal history.

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