Montesquieu

What gave the notion of a great usur­pa­tion of Roman lands by the bar­ba­rians is that we find in the laws of the Visigoths and the Burgundians that these two peo­ples had two-thirds of the lands ; but these two-thirds were taken only in cer­tain sec­tions that were assi­gned to them.

Gundebald says in the law of the Burgundians that his peo­ple at its esta­blish­ment recei­ved two-thirds of the lands,1 and it is said in the second sup­ple­ment to this law that they would no lon­ger give more than half to any who might come into the coun­try.2 Therefore not all the lands had been divi­ded up bet­ween the Romans and the Burgundians.

We find the same expres­sions in the texts of these two sta­tu­tes : the­re­fore they explain each other ; and as we can­not unders­tand the second as a glo­bal divi­sion of lands, nei­ther can we give that mea­ning to the first.

The Franks acted with the same mode­ra­tion as the Burgundians ; they did not des­poil the Romans through the whole range of their conquests. What would they have done with so much land ? They took the lands that sui­ted them, and left the rest.

Licet eo tempore quo populus noster mancipiorum tertiam et duas terrarum partes accepit, etc. (Law of the Burgundians, tit. 54, §1).

Ut non amplius a Burgundionibus qui infra venerunt, requiratur quam ad præsens necessitas fuerit, mediatas terræ (art. 11).