Legal terms in eiximenis regiment de la cosa publica

Autor:Donna M. Rogers
Càrrec:Penn State University

Works Cited.


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Francesc Eiximenis (1327P-1409?) was one of the most prolific Catalan writers of the Middle Ages. A cleric, author and theologian, he was actively involved in contemporary court and church politics. He was close to the royal house of Aragon and advisor to the city councillors or «jurats» of Valencia; his opinion was sought in ecclesiastical and political matters. He was also a keen observer of the society in which he lived and his observations, with their depictions of daily life, are extremely valuable to the scholars of today who are interested in fourteenth-century Catalonia.

As a younger man, Eiximenis studied and participated in clerical life. He travelled widely throughout Europe in the 1360's, then devoted the latter years of his life to his writing. Probably the most important of his works is the monumental Llibre del Crestia, although Eiximenis was able to complete only four of the planned thirteen volumes. It is an encyclopaedic collection of exempla, sermons and moral lessons intended to guide men and women to a Christian way of life and, ultimately, to salvation.

Eiximenis composed the first three books-the Primer, Segon and Terq del Crestia, between 1379 and 1384. He had, however, interrupted the order of the volumes and skipped ahead to the twelfth book, part of which came out in Valencia in 1383 as the Regiment de la cosa publica (to which I will generally refer hereafter as the Regiment). A year or two later, with a few minor modifications, this would become the third treatise of the Dotze del Crestia. Its subject matter is the rule of the state; its foundation in the Christian faith; the importance of laws, good rulers and councillors, certain persons and actions to be avoided or restricted; and it includes a curious section on the contributions of merchants to the state.

There is no manuscript extant of the Regiment de la cosa piibUca.

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Today we know of one incunabulum, published in Valencia in 1499. Fortunately, however, there are three manuscripts (all apparently early to mid-fifteenth century) and one incunabulum edition (dated 1484) of the first part of the Dotze del Crestia, which incorporates the Regiment, so we do have more, than one witness to the text. Each presents variant readings that I will cite where they are pertinent. I should mention that I am not including in this study the «Dedicat6ria» at the beginning of the separate edition of the Regiment, because it does not appear in the Dotze and because there is some question as to whether or not Eiximenis actually wrote it.

The research presented in this paper is part of a broader general study of Eiximenis' language. The present work, however, is restricted to a small part of that material: a brief look at the use of legal terms in the Regiment.

Why look at this particular semantic group? Eiximenis frequently talked about the importance of law, both civil and church, and in his works he often cited canon law, among other sources. Moreover, after studying Eiximenis' writings for several years, I have begun to suspect his claim to write for simple, unlettered people. In fact, he seems to make extensive use of a rather learned vocabulary. Perhaps it is more his style that is for the simple folk: it is extremely repetitive, with many synonyms, definitions and translations; that does not mean, however, that his vocabulary is not somewhat erudite. In the Regiment de la cosa publica, Eiximenis' use of legal terminology is noteworthy and seemed to warrant closer study.

By legal terms, I actually mean two different types of words: the first are words with a specific, technical legal usage-the kind that would be part of court proceedings, law codes, and so on. In the second classification I include related words having to do more generally with the law, describing crimes and criminals, and the like. There are a good many words from both categories in the text, and I believe that it is important to consider the second group as carefully as the first. Eiximenis claimed to have made a conscious effort to use popular terms wherever he could; in the general introduction to Lo Crestia, he addressed the work to «persones sens grans letres» and promised to speak «comunament, e mes que mds, grosserament a vegades» (Hauf 39). Thus, it is important to consider not only the learned, technical legal terms, but also the more popular related words, in order to obtain a complete picture of this semantic area.

Legal terms appearing in the "Regiment de la cosa publica"

Note: The number of times a given word appears in the Regiment is indicated in square brackets; i.e. [3].

Absoldre [1] 'absolve'.

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Acusat [1] (acusacio [2], acusador [1]) 'accused', 'accusation, prosecution', 'prosecutor' cf. fiscal: what he presents is an acusachS or denunciacio, while acusador is given as a synonym for fiscal (q.v).

Advocaci6 [1] 'advocacy, action of lawyer, trial'.

Advocat [1] 'lawyer'.

Afaitar [1] 'rob, cheat'. While declc does not mention this usage, dcvb 1, 230 has «furtar, prendre d'amagat, amb astiicia, aprofitant un des-cuit» as a meaning of afaitar in Barcelona and Emporda.

Bastard [3] 'bastard, illegitimate child1. See also bord.

Bord [21] (borderia [4]) 'bastard', 'bastardy'.

Declc 11, 98-101 notes that while the word is documented very early, it is particularly common in Eiximenis.

CADI [2]

Cassar [1] (cassa [l])

Causa [10] used to mean 'law case' only. According to declc ii, 984 (s.v. COSA), up to the 13th century, cosa was used in this sense, but from the 13th century on, the distinction was made between causa in a legal sense, and cosa for other meanings.

Clamar [5] (clam [l]) 'make a legal claim or complaint', 'claim, complaint', clamar (sometimes + de) appears only in a legal sense in the Regiment, that is, Eiximenis never uses it as a synonym for cridar.

Contracte [l] 'contract, formal legal agreement*. The declc gives 1507 as the date of its first documentation, although dcvb has a 13th century citation. All mss present the same form.

Crim [13] (criminar [1], criminos [4]) 'crime', 'commit a crime', 'criminal'.

Defes [1] 'defence'.

Denunciació [1] (denunciar [2]) used as synonyms of acusaci6, acusar. dret [6] 'law'. Also dret adj. [3], although this is not used in a legal sense.

Escriva [5] 'scribe'. It is used only with terms like notari, contracte,

Jurista (i.e. only with a legal connotation, not literary). ESTATUT [2] 'statute', 'law'; used as synonym for LEY and manament.

Falsar [1] 'falsify': «falsar testaments e cartes e processos».

Fiscal [1] 'prosecutor'. This is one of the earliest appearances of this

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term; the first documented is from the 1370's (declc hi, 1044 s.v. fisc). In fact, Eiximenis defines it: «aquests se apellen pr6piament acu-sadors del poble».

For [4] 'price, tariff. Only in the phrase «a covinent for».

Fur [3] in each case, synonymous with 'law'; cf. for.

Furtar [9] 'rob, steal'. Eiximenis seems to have preferred furtar to robar, which appears only once in the text, declc vi, 235-36 comments that furtar «era estrany al cat. antic (fora del llenguatge tecnic dels juristes)» and that it was and is used primarily in the Pais Valencia.

Illicit [1] 'illicit, illegal' learned form

Injuria [2] synonym of injusti'cia, a meaning it already had in the works of Llull.

Judiciari [2] noun; appears to be a synonym for jutge in both cases. declc iv, 935 (s.v. jutge) gives no date for its first appearance,

Jui [5] 'judgement, verdict'. A more popular form of Judici, juf was the usual form in the 14th century.

Jurar [2] (jurament [l]), 'swear', 'oath'. One of the cases of jurar seems to mean 'to blaspheme'; «alguns ribalts [...] juren pijor de De"u que altres.»

Jurat [2] 'city councillor'. The disputed introduction to the Regiment dedicates the book to the jurats of Valencia; one of these citations refers to them, the other to the councillors of Flanders. At his first use of the term in the Regiment proper, Eiximenis defines it: «Los valencians los apellen jurats, car en lo comencament de llur ofici ells fan jurament especial de consellar e de mantenir la cosa publica segons llur poder.»

Jurista [15] 'lawyer'.

Justicia [53] (injusticia [2]) 'justice'; 'injustice'.

Jutge [13] (jutjar [6]), 'judge' noun, verb.

Legitim [3] 'legitimate', i.e. «generacio», «infants», «actes».

Lladre [2] 'thief.

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Lladronici [1] 'robbery, theft'. A metathesised form of lladrocini

Lledesme [l] 'legitimate child', Also

Llei [111] 'law'. The manuscripts of the Dotzh (but not the incunabula) have lig instead of llei wherever 'divine law' is meant: for example, lig divinal, lig de grAcia, lig DE Deu; elsewhere, all use llei. declc V, 136 confirms this: [trobem] la variant LLIG [...] amb pre-dileccio per a les reh'gioses i doctrinals.»

Lleuda [2] 'tax or duty levied when goods entered a city or town'.

Mogubell [l] 'interest on loan, often exorbitant or usurious'.

Notari [5] 'notary'.

Ofensa [7] 'offence', 'illegal act'.

Peatge [1] 'toll, right of passage'. Appears with lleuda (q.v.).

Picaplet [19] 'lawyer'. Dictionaries give «picaplets», but in the Regiment it has no s in the singular. This term is usually pejorative, but it is not necessarily so in Eiximenis: they can be «bons». declc vi, 526 (s.v. picar) confirms this: «generalment pejoratiu, i ja podia ser-ho antigament, pero no sempre, almenys en Eiximenis».

Plet [4] 'legal action, case'.

Proces [1] 'process, legal action1. Used as object of falsar (q.v.).

Procurador [2] 'procurator, lawyer'. Used as synonym for raonador and picaplet (q.v.): «procuradors [...] o raonadors o picaplets, que tot e"s u...».

Provar [7] 'prove'.

Raonador [2] 'lawyer'. Used as synonym for procurador (q.v.).

Regator [10] appears to mean 'speculator': «lo regater tostemps de-sija mal temps e carestia, e compra en gros per esperan$a d'encarir la terra, e de tots punts es contrari a bon mercader, ne null temps cerca ne cessa de trafegar o de baratar sin6 a son profit*. It is not clear that this activity is illegal, but Eiximenis declares that it should be regulated.

Regla [3] 'rule, rule of law'. Used only as a legal term in the Regiment: «la llei, que deu esser regla directiva a l'hom»; «mirall de veritat e regla de justicia* (bis).

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Revenedor [2] 'speculator'? It occurs both times with, and appears to mean the same as regater (q.v.).

Revocar [2] 'revoke, annul' (with llei).

Robar [1] (robador [1], roberia [1]) 'rob, steal', 'robber', 'robbery'. Although robar is documented from the 12th century on (declc vii, 351-54), Eiximenis seems to have preferred furtar (q.v.).

Sentencia [3] 'sentence, legal decision or judgement'. (I have not included here its use in the Regiment with other meanings, such as 'maxim, aphorism'.)

Testament [1] 'will, testament'. Appears as object of falsar (q.v.).

Testimoni [8] 'witness'. According to declc viii, 466-67 (s.v. testar), it could mean 'testimony' or 'witness'; in the Regiment, however, it has only the meaning of 'witness'.

Trafegar [1] (trafeguer [3], trafegueria [1]) 'swindle, cheat', 'swindler1, 'swindling1? trafegar is an activity attributed to regaters (q.v.), while trafeguers and trafegueria are equated to usurers and usury.

Usura [2] 'usury'. Appears with trafeguer, trafegueria (see trafegar).

Clearly, Eiximenis was familiar with legal matters, from his experience, possibly from his studies, and certainly from his association with the jurats of Valencia (although he moved there only a short while before he composed the Regiment). He would also have acquired knowledge of legal matters through his association with the royal family and his presence at court.

While he takes pains to explain some of the more technical, specialised or unusual terms he uses in the Regiment (such as CADf, fiscal, jurat, prOcuradOR, among others), most of the words in the above list seem not to have been overly unusual or incomprehensible to Eiximenis' public. If such had been the case, he would have included more definitions and more synonyms. Even words like CASSAR and JURAT, which were first documented in Eiximenis' works or were simply very common in them, were surely not neologisms. It seems clear that he expected his audience to understand the great majority of them. This is an interesting observation in light of Eiximenis' claim to write for the unlettered. It seems to me that his intent to address Lo Crestii to such people may apply more to other parts of the Dotze and to the other books of the series than it does to the Regiment; after all, its subject matter is perhaps more specialised than that of other parts of the work.

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As for the less technical terms, we glean some valuable information from the Regiment about persons and activities considered undesirable and/or against the law. The early documentation o£ afaitar in its sense of 'rob', Eiximenis' apparent preference for furtar over robar, and for bord over BASTARD, among other characteristics, are useful to our knowledge of the state of Catalan towards the end of the 14th century.

The present study is, as I have stated, part of a larger investigation of Eiximenis' language. It is my hope that the broader study will confirm the impressions I receive in passing as I read Eiximenis' works, about his use of language: that perhaps he is being somewhat misleading when he professes to write for the uneducated, and that his language is rather more sophisticated that he is usually given credit for.

Works Cited

Alcover, Antoni M. Diccionari catala-valencia-balear, 10 vols. Palma de

Mallorca: Moll, 1988. Coromines, Joan. Diccionari etimolbgic i complementari de la llengua catalana. 9 vols. Barcelona: Curial Edicions Catalanes i «La Caixa», 1980-89. dcvb = Alcover. declc = Coromines.

Eiximenis, Francesc. Dotze del Crestia. Ms. Espagnol 9. Bibliotheque National, Paris.

-. Dotze del Crestia. Ms. N° 188. Arxiu Episcopal de Vic. -. Dotze del Crestia. Ms. Sant Cugat 10. Arxiu de la Corona d'Arago, Barcelona.

-. Dotze del Crestia. Valencia: Lambert Palmart, 1484. -. Lo Crestia (Seleccio). Ed. Albert G. Hauf. Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1983. -. Regiment de la cosa publica. Ed. Daniel de Molins de Rei. Els Nostres Classics, XIII. Barcelona: Barcino, 1927. -. Regiment de la cosa ptlblica. Valencia: Cristofol Cofman, 1499.