Montesquieu
 

XXVIII.6 How Roman law was preserved in the domain of the Lombards

It all cor­res­ponds to my prin­ci­ples. The law of the Lombards was impar­tial, and the Romans had no inte­rest in aban­do­ning theirs to adopt it. The motive that per­sua­ded the Romans under the Franks to choose Salic law was not per­ti­nent in Italy : Roman law was main­tai­ned there with the law of the Lombards.

It even hap­pe­ned that the Lombard law yiel­ded to Roman law ; it cea­sed to be the law of the domi­nant nation, and although it conti­nued to be that of the prin­ci­pal nobi­lity, most of the cities set them­sel­ves up as repu­blics, and that nobi­lity disap­pea­red, or was exter­mi­na­ted.1 The citi­zens of the new repu­blics were not prone to adopt a law which esta­bli­shed the use of judi­cial com­bat, and whose ins­ti­tu­tions deri­ved lar­gely from the cus­toms and prac­ti­ces of chi­valry. The clergy being from that time on so power­ful in Italy, and living almost enti­rely under Roman law, the num­ber of those who fol­lo­wed the law of the Lombards must have dimi­ni­shed regu­larly.

Besides, the law of the Lombards did not have the majesty of Roman law, which recal­led to Italy the memory of its domi­na­tion over the whole earth ; it did not have the same exten­sion. The law of the Lombards and Roman law could now serve only to sup­ple­ment the sta­tu­tes of the cities which had assu­med the sta­tus of repu­blics : now which could bet­ter sup­ple­ment them, the law of the Lombards, which deci­ded only cer­tain cases, or the Roman law that embra­ced them all ?

See what Machiavelli says about the destruction of the old nobility of Florence.