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Book of Swedish Laws, 15th century

Identifier: MS 159

Scope and Contents

This manuscript is a 15th-century book of law from Linköping, Sweden. It comprises the royal and municipal law of Sweden, laws of marriage, inheritance, land, buildings, commerce, navigation, magistracy, oaths, loyalty, murder, homicide, premeditated assault [?], theft, estate law and church law. There are also rules to be observed by those about to receive the Eucharist, with some other liturgical material.

Two fly-leaves of vellum are fragments of a noted breviary of the 13th [?] century, containing portions of the lessons from the Book of Judith and Responds of the 4th Sunday in September.


  1. f. 1r: Calendar (Jan.-Oct.)
  2. f. 7r: Tãtta är forst i thenne bock konungs balkar och swer'kis rikis stadz lagh. Capitulum primum. In nomine domini Amen ('There is first in this book the King's code and the Swedish kingdom's National Law. Chapter one. In the Name of the Lord, Amen.')
  3. f. 15v: Hãr bõrias giffto balken med sinom flockom ('Here begins the code of marriage and related codes')
  4. f. 21r: Hãr bõrias arffna balkar medh sinom flockom ('Here begins the code of inheritance and related codes')
  5. f. 26r: Hãr bõrias Jorda balker med flockom sinom ('Here begins the code of land law and related codes')
  6. f. 30v: Hãr bõrias bygninga balkar med sinom flockom ('Here begins the code of building and construction and related codes')
  7. f. 38v: Hãr bõrias köpmala balkar med sinom flockom ('Here begins the code of trading and related codes')
  8. f. 49v: Hãr bõrias skipmala balken med flockom sinom ('Here begins the code of seafaring and related codes')
  9. f. 53r: Hãr bõrias Radstüffno balken me sinom floe ('Here begins the code of penalty and related codes')
  10. f. 62r: Hãr bõrias edzöres balken medh flockom synom ('Here begins the code of peace')
  11. f. 68v: Hãr bõrias hõgmålis balken med flokom ('Here begins the code of the extreme crimes' [NB: these crimes could be treason, murders of royals, arson and bestiality])
  12. f. 71r: Hãr bõrias drapmala balken med vilia ('Here begins the code of manslaughter and related codes')
  13. f. 73v: Hãr bõrias drapara balk med vadha ('Here begins the code of murder and related codes')
  14. f. 76v: Hãr bõrias saramala balken med vilia ('Here begins the code of intentional abuse')
  15. f. 81v: Hãr bõrias saramal medli wadha ok ey vilia ('Here begins the code of unintentional abuse')
  16. f. 83r: Hãr bõrias tũvffna balken med sinom flockom ('Here begins the code of theft and related codes'), ends on f. 87v with the words 'malsegandenom konunge ok stadenom. Et sic est finis sit laus gloria trinis. Amen. ('...plaintiffs the king and the state')
  17. f. 87r: Tätta här näst eptär folgar. Ta't pla'ga kallas gards rättär, etc. Tätta ar konungsens i Swer'ke... ('What hereby follows is the court baron)'....'This belongs to the King of Sweden') Ends with the rubric, Sunt derisores derisi deterioris. Que me deridet, non sua facta videt. Qui culpat scriptum demon frangit sibi collum. Heu male finivi qui scribere non bene sivi. Qui jurat supra librum, etc.
  18. f. 90r: Item nota quacunque arte quis juret deus qui est testis conscientia hoc ita accipit sicut ille qui juratur inter [...], etc.
  19. f. 91v: Tassa articula a' gha' te 'ath vackta som gudhz leconia skulo taka (Instructions to one about to receive the Holy Eucharist)
  20. f. 94v: Prayers before Mass, etc. in Latin.
  21. f. 95r: Häar börias Kirkio balker ('Here begins the code of the Church')
  22. f. 105r: later additions in Swedish, in many different hands.

An average Gothic hand, with rubrics and plain or roughly ornamented red capitals, with a few marginal scrolls.


  • Creation: 15th century

Language of Materials

Late Old Swedish, Latin.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

The Kalendar (Jan.-Oct.) is identical with the Kalendar of Linkoping, the significant names being: 19 Jan., Henrici Ep. M.; 15 Feb., Sigfridi Ep. C.; 18 May, Erici Regis M.; 28 May, Translacio Sancte Birgitte; 17 June, Botolphi Abb.; 10 July, Kanuti Regis M.; 29 July, Olavi Regis M.; 1 Sept., Egidii Abb.; 6 Oct., Translacio Eskilli M.; 7 Oct., Birgitte.

There are various Swedish inscriptions in which the name Christopher Paulsen, a native of Samland, is frequently repeated. F. 106 v: Iste liber Pauli Nicholaii natus in Salmia [?] et ensula dom̃o; Iste liber Cristofferus Paulii natus in Smalandia et insula dom̃o; Cristoffer Paffuelshoun; Thenne bock horer mag. Christoffer Pauvelshoun. On the second, Anno Domini 1589 Thenn 10 Junii blefv jagh Cristoffer Paufvelshoun kallatt afv alltingeman samptt borgemẽstare och Råd [. . .] till stadzskrifvuare embette. ('On the 19th June 1589, I, Christopher Paulsen, was appointed Town Clerk by the Altingsman, Mayor, and Town Council') The book appears to have belonged to Christopher Paulsen ca 1589.

The next mark of ownership is the statement in David Laing's hand, From the Collection of Erskine of Alva. Press mark A.7.92, see the Press Catalogue of Lord Alva's Libray (La.III.755), p. 102, where it is wrongly described as 'Leges Saxonicae M.S. Pergam'.

The book has been examined by Dasent, who describes it on a paper fly-leaf as The Borough Law of Sweden. G. W. Dasent, D.C.L., Sept. 20th, 1859. A very curious MS.

Previous reference

D. b. V. 14

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum, and some paper leaves at the end.

Binding: Modern.

Collation: a2, b4, c11 (+7), d10, e12, f12, g10, h11 (+6), i12, k12, l10= 106.


17.78 cm x 13 cm


Secundo folio: man skulu

Foliation and number of lines to a page: f. 106, 26 lines to a page.

Processing Information

Translated from Swedish by Victor Johansson, September 2019.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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