XXVIII.21 Another reflection on the point of honor among the Germans

“It was a great infamy among the Germans,” says Tacitus, “to have lost one’s shield in bat­tle ; and many, after this mis­for­tune, had put them­sel­ves to death.”1 Indeed the ancient Salic law grants a com­pen­sa­tion of fif­teen sous to a man who to whom it had been said by way of insult that he had lost his shield.2

Charlemagne, amen­ding the Salic law, assi­gns in this case only three sous of com­pen­sa­tion.3 We can­not sus­pect this prince of inten­ding to wea­ken mili­tary dis­ci­pline ; it is clear that this change came from the change in wea­pons, and it is to this change in wea­pons that we owe the ori­gin of many prac­ti­ces.

De moribus Germanorum [ch. vi].

In Pactus legis Salicæ.

We have the former law and the one amended by the prince.