oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Imagen y represión de la prostitución en época visigoda

Special issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



The Liber iudiciorum or lex Visigothorum, a compilation of laws enacted by different monarchs, issued by Receswinth in 654, is part of the most Romanised group of Germanic laws of the period. The influence of the Roman law that preceded it may be seen in many of its rules, including those recording the name of the monarch who enacted them and other, older rules which did not. This paper analyses LV 3, 4,17 (antiqua), which was intended to stamp out prostitution, and which remained in force throughout the period of the Visigothic monarchy (506-711). This rule, with a clear structure of parallel legal dispositions, focuses on women who engage in prostitution, be they free women or slaves. They are the main recipients of the harsh penalties introduced by the law. There is also a section on punishment of the fathers of free women and the owners of slave women who have consented to or profited from the prostitution of their daughters or slaves. The last section deals with the punishment of judges who, through laxness or corruption, hamper the suppression of the offence. It is significant that this legal text closely echoes measures taken against pandering (lenocinium) in the late Roman Empire. However, unlike the earlier imperial provisions, the sanctions imposed in Visigoth law were chiefly involved the harsh punishment of women caught in the act of prostitution. As also seen in other sources from the same period, there is a significant shift towards strict prohibition, in which the punishments of prostitution and the women who engage in it are inflexible.

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