Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales

Aneurin Owen's Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales was the first full modern edition of the Welsh laws, taking into account all of the manuscripts available to Aneurin Owen. The editions are still useful today, and his sigla (letter names) for the manuscripts are still used, with additions as some manuscripts were discovered after Aneurin Owen's time.

In his Volume I, he presented the three Codes which he named after geographical regions. These have been renamed, but they are: the Venedotian Code of Gwynedd (now called Iorwerth); the Dimetian Code of Dyfed (now Blegywryd); and the Gwentian Code of Gwent (Cyfnerth).

Volume II contained the 'Anomalous Laws', organised into Books, numbered IV-XIV; Book XIII was based on a forgery by Iolo Morganwg. These were followed by three Latin texts, Leges Howeli Boni, which are now known as Latin A, B and C.

The notes are commonly referred to by a small numeral: thus, (1); and in special cases by a small Italic letter: thus, (a).

Explanatory foot-notes are distinguished by a Roman letter: thus, (a).

There is also used another mark, called a tick: thus, (`). In the body of the text this mark shows the end of the passage, for which a various reading is to be found; and in the notes a corresponding tick has been placed immediately after the numeral or Italic letter.

In cases where two or more Manuscripts vary as to the length of the passage about which they differ, the point in the text at which each terminates is marked by one or more ticks, according to the number of conflicting Manuscripts: thus, (`) (``) (```) (````) and so on.

The standard method is to refer to sections rather than to the page numbers in the printed texts, as there are two printed versions of 'Ancient Laws'.

For Volume I, the Code is first indicated by the initials VC = Venedotian Code, DC = Dimetian Code, and GC = Gwentian Code.

For Volume II the Book is indicated in capital roman numerals.

The chapter is indicated in lower case roman numerals.

The sentence is indicated in arabic numerals.

So, examples are VC II.ii.4, or XI.ii.7.

The Latin texts in AL have been superseded by The Latin Texts of the Welsh Laws, and so should not be used. However, in this project, references are included with the table for the relevant manuscript, for completeness, and in the following way:

Leges Wallicae = LW, Book, chapter, sentence. [Latin A] LW I.ii.3

Leges Howeli Boni = LHB, Book, chapter, sentence. [Latin B] LHB I.ii.3

Leges Howeli Boni = LHB, chapter, sentence. [Latin C] LHB i.2. Where numbering in the text comes to an end, reference is given to page and line in the Quarto edition.

Corresponding pages in the Folio edition can be found in P.Russell, Welsh Law in Medieval Anglesey. British Library Harleian MS 1796 (Latin C), Texts and Studies in Medieval Welsh Law II (Cambridge, 2011)

The following files list the contents of each section of Ancient Laws, showing the theme of the sections(using the titles as they appear in the volume), and giving cross - references for the manuscripts used.The manuscript used for the base text is shown first, followed by manuscripts used for variant readings.

Volume I

Volume I presents the three Codes.

  • The Venedotian Code - Dull Gwynedd
  • The Dimetian Code - Dull Dyfed
  • The Gwentian Code - Dull Gwent

Volume II

The 'Anomalous Laws'.

  • Book IV
  • Book V
  • Book VI
  • Book VII
  • Book VIII
  • Book IX
  • Book X
  • Book XI
  • Book XII
  • Book XIII is a forgery by Iolo Morgannwg
  • Book XIV
  • Leges Wallicae - Latin A
  • Leges Howeli Boni - Latin B
  • Leges Howeli Boni - Latin C