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The Difference between Germanic Law, Canon Law and Feudal Law

Updated: Feb 7

Arila from Vision Factory

Author: Arila Baja

Date of Publication: 13/05/2023

Germanic law

Germanic Law is the body of laws of the Germans, between the 5th and 9th centuries. In particular, German laws were influenced by Roman law and tribal customs. So, their purpose was to regulate the legal relationships of both Roman and German populations. All these laws may be described in general as codes of governmental procedure and taxes for compositions. Therefore, the main German laws are Lex Visigothorum, Lex Romana Visigothorum, Lex Burgundionum, and Lex Romana Burgundionum.

Germanic law influenced by Roman law

German Civil Code-BGB

The German Civil Code (BGB), which was initially developed in 1881 and adopted in 1896, officially came into force on January 1 of 1900. Germany's national Private Law was formed in a process that lasted about two decades. Thereby unifying the formerly disjointed and regional systems of private and family laws. This happened in Germany after the unification and the founding of the German Empire in 1871.

● BGB asserts its exclusive jurisdiction, reaffirms the validity of positive law, and charges judges. Its language is therefore quite theoretical and is based on the rigid purism, notions, and methods of the most accomplished pandects.

● The BGB is clear in its diffidence as a bourgeois legal document towards the social and the collective. Specifically, it repeatedly affirms its rigidly individualistic outlook.

● At the economic level too, the BGB clearly sets up the individual entrepreneur as its point of reference.

●In learning about the BGB, we can see more broadly how difficult it was to make progress toward women’s emancipation within existing legal frameworks. Also, we can learn how long it took to change, especially family and marriage law. Since then the patriarchal family was perceived by the conservative elites. Also, Christian churches were the bastion of the state and society.

Canon law

Canon Law is the body of laws and regulations made by the ecclesiastical authority for the government of a Christian organization. A canon was originally a regulation enacted by a Church council, according to historical tradition. These canons formed the basis of the Canon law, until the formation of the Code of Canon law. So, the institutions and practices of Canon law run parallel to the legal development of European law. As a result, both Civil law and Common law (as a legal system) bear the influences of Canon law.

Canon law - Code of Canon law

Feudal law

Feudal law originated from feudalism, which was, between the 10th and the 13th centuries, substantially an agreement between a lord and a vassal. A person became a vassal by pledging political allegiance and providing military, political, and financial service to a lord. Thus the lord had complete authority over land or acted in the service of another sovereign. As part of the feudal agreement, the lord promised to protect the vassal and provided him with a plot of land.

● The feudal system is the common name for the set of social, political, economic, and military institutions known as feudalism. This system was prevalent in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. According to a broad definition, it was a method of organizing society around bonds.

Law terminology used in the text:

1. Juridical- A judicial definition is one that refers to or describes the law, justice, or the role of a judge.

2. Jurisdiction- The ability or authority of a legal entity to apply laws to a particular situation, person, or subject is known as jurisdiction.

3. Sovereignty- The ability or authority of a legal entity to apply laws to a particular situation, person, or object is known as jurisdiction.

4. Fiduciary- A person who maintains a legal or moral relationship of trust with one or more other parties is known as a fiduciary.


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