Libellus de batalla facienda: Judicial Combat in Catalonia from the Eleventh to the Thirteenth Century
This article gives an overview of the evolution of trial by combat in the Principality of Catalonia, culminating in a study of this interesting treaty that, because of historiographic circumstances, is relatively unknown to most academics. The Libellus de batalla facienda is a brief Catalan legal treatise that regulated judicial combat in the Principality of Catalonia, especially Barcelona. There are some characteristics to it that make it unique. Written in around 1255, it is not only very early for its time, but is also a very clear and detailed description of the formalities and the procedures that the two combatants had to go through before, during, and after the fight. Written in a down-to-earth fashion, it starts with the prearrangements – such as guarantees and pledges, or the oath taking – before detailing the preparation of the lliça – the battleground. It continues with a description of the rules for combat and finally ends with regulations regarding the outcome and its aftermath. The Libellus ultimately provides historians with a testimony of a common practice used to resolve legal issues that stems from a long tradition with its roots in the eleventh century.
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