The early dukes of Bavaria, who emerged under the suzerainty of the Frankish kings in the 6th Century, belonged to the family of the Agilolfings who chose Ratisbon (Regensburg, Bavaria, at the confluence of the Danube and Regan River) early on as their capital (Leeper 71). The earliest Bavarian duke in the historical record is Theodon I, who lived between 420-511 AD. He was followed by his son, Theodon II, who died in 537. The dukes of Lower Bavaria - Theodon III (died 565), Theobaldo I (died 567), and Theodebert (died 584) - preceeded Garibald I, who held the title Duke of Bavaria. Duke Garibald I, who reigned between 560-590, seems to have had the power of a sovereign. His daughter, Theodelinda, became Queen of the Lombards. Two other genealogical origins have been associated with this duke of Bavaria: the Heruli Prince Fara (died 535) and Agilulf the Bavarian (born 470). Agilulf, who married Cloderic's sister, Princess de Bourgogne, in 490 in France, was succeeded by his son Agivald Agilolfing (born 500), who, according to one genealogy, was the father of Garibald I (Tompsett "The Duchy of Bavaria").
In 592, Garibald's son, Tassilo I, who reigned between 590-610, successfully stemmed the Slavic invasion of the region at a battle that occured in the Pustertal. Tassilo's son, Garibald II, after suffering a defeat at Lienz, once again drove back the Slavs to beyond the present-day Austrian-Italian border (Leeper 71-72). In 630, Garibaldi II, who reigned between 610-640, was able to throw Frankish influence off for a time - but this independence was short-lived. The Franks under Charles Martel again subdued the Bavarians (Wittmann "Bavaria").
It was probably during the reign of Garibaldi II - during the Frankish reign of King Dagobert - that the oldest existing sections of the Bavarian Lawbook, the Lex Baiowariorum, were composed. Although written in Latin, the spirit of the document is purely Teutonic, with many Bavarian and Frankish words used to express non-Roman concepts. The oldest sections of the code focus mainly on weregelds - i.e., monetary compensations for killing or bodily injury. The meticulous precision with which these weregeld laws were calculated, and the apparent lack of moral disapproval for the violent acts themselves, reflect a pre-Christian sensibility common to most early Germanic peoples. For example, six shillings was the proper compensation for cutting off a freedman's thumb, three shillings for his first or little finger, and two shillings for the middle fingers. Compensations for slaves were proportionately lower. Interestingly, the double weregeld allowed for women reflected the Bavarian view of a woman's defenselessness. This double weregeld also applied to visiting pilgrims and travellers for the same reason (Lex Baiowariorum, tituli IV, V, and VI, summarized in Leeper 73-74).
The dukedom in the House of Agilolfing was primarily heriditary. The duke was elected, by the people or the chief men of the nation, from among the near relatives of his predecessor - although the Frankish kings reserved the right to invest the dukes. According to the Lex Baiowariorum, the duke, as absolute ruler, excercised supreme power over his people. He was, however, guided in his leadership by custom, tradition, the wisdom of the chief men of the nation, and the popular feelings of the people. The duke's life was protected by a more than fivefold weregeld, and under later laws, violence against the duke was punishable by death and confiscation of the killer's property. The only offences that carried a penalty of death for a free Bavarian were conspiracy against the duke's life, and inviting enemies into the province. After the highest level of protection granted to the Agilolfing dukes, the next highest was the double weregeld granted to the five noble families of Huosi, Drozza, Fagana, Hahilinga, and Anniona - probably the descendants of kings of seperate lesser tribes incorporated within the Bavarian nation, along with the Marcomanni. Below these nobles was the general body of the Bavarian freemen, who possessed the rights to hold land, speak in the assemblies, wear their hair long and carry weapons, and fight alongside their countrymen in battle. Below the freemen were the freedmen, and below them, the bondmen - most of whom were personally free, but still bound to their lord's land and service. The only slaves within the Bavarian nation were war-captives and criminals condemned to slavery by their actions (Lex Baiowariorum, tituli III, summarized in Leeper 74-75)
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