Montesquieu

On adop­tion among the Germans

As a young man attai­ned majo­rity among the Germans by recei­ving wea­pons, he was adop­ted by the same sign. Thus Guntram, in order to declare his nephew Childebert of age, and also adopt him, said to him : “I have pla­ced this jave­lin in thy hands as a sign that I have given thee my king­dom.”And tur­ning toward the assem­bly : “You see that my son Childebert has become a man : obey him.” Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, inten­ding to adopt the king of the Heruli, wrote to him : “It is a fine thing, among us, that we can be adop­ted by arms, for men of cou­rage are the only ones who deserve to become our chil­dren. There is such strength in this act that he who is its object will always choose to die rather than to suf­fer some­thing disho­no­ring. Thus, by the cus­tom of the nations, and because you are a man, we adopt you with these shields, these swords, and these hor­ses which we send to you.”