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Promotion: Old Frisian and learned law in 15th-century Frisia

Historian Marvin Wiegand defends his dissertation The Reception of Learned Law in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century Frisia on Tuesday afternoon, 17 October 2023 at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Supervision of the PhD process was in the hands of supervisor Prof Jan Hallebeek (Vrije Universiteit) and co-supervisors Dr Han Nijdam (Fryske Akademy) and Prof Hylkje de Jong (Vrije Universiteit). 

Around 1400, a new legal tradition emerged in Fryslân, in which classical Old Frisian law was far influenced by learned law; the canon law and Roman law that was studied and practised throughout medieval Europe from the 12th century onwards. 

Using an examination of five areas of law (contracts, legal procedure, theft, wills and widows), Wiegand shows how the content of Frisian law was influenced between around 1300 and 1500. This makes the thesis a contribution not only to Frisian legal history, but also to the study of the reception of foreign law. The study of this complex matter requires knowledge of Old Frisian and Latin, in addition to knowledge of the modern languages in which it was written: Dutch, Frisian, German and English.

The last person to seriously study the legal tradition in Fryslân was the scholar Pieter Gerbenzon (1920-2009). Now that Old Frisian has received increasing (international) attention in recent years, it is important to study this aspect of the late medieval tradition as well.

Marvin Wiegand
Marvin Wiegand was born in Berlin in 1992. He studied history at Freie Universität Berlinn and completed his Master's degree in history at Leiden University.

Province of Fryslân and the Frysk Akademyfûns confirmed the importance of this study by co-financing the research.

  • Look here for the thesis and the livestream.