Brocard (legal term)

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A Brocard is a legal principle expressed in Latin (and often derived from past legal authorities), which is traditionally used to express concisely a wider legal concept or rule. The name comes from the Latinized name of Burchard (died 1025), bishop of Worms, Germany, who compiled 20 volumes of Ecclesiastical Rules.



Begun in 1008, the materials took Burchard four years to compile. He wrote it while living in a small structure on top of a hill in the forest outside Worms, after his defeat of Duke Otto and while raising his adopted child. The collection, which he called the "Collectarium canonum" or "Decretum", became the primary source for canon law.

Along with numerous documents from a variety of sources, including the Old Testament and Augustine of Hippo, Burchard included the Canon Episcopi in this collection, under the belief that it dated from a bishop's "Council of Anquira" in 314, but no other evidence of this council exists. Because of this inclusion, Burchard has been described as something of a rationalist. As the source of canon law, Burchard's Decretum was supplanted around 1150 by the Decretum Gratiani, a much larger collection that further attempted to reconcile contradictory canon law.

Burchard spent the years 1023 to 1025 promulgating "Leges et Statuta familiae S. Petri Wormatiensis", a collection of religious laws he endorsed as fair and hoped to see adopted with official approval.


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