Corpus Juris Civilis: Wikis

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Justinian I depicted on a mosaic in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

The Corpus Juris (or Iuris) Civilis ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name[1] for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor.

This code compiled, in the Latin language, all of the existing imperial constitutiones (imperial pronouncements having the force of law), back to the time of Hadrian. It used both the Codex Theodosianus and the fourth-century collections embodied in the Codex Gregorianus and Codex Hermogenianus, which provided the model for division into books that were divided into titles. These codices had developed authoritative standing.[2]

Justinian gave orders to collect legal materials of various kinds into several new codes, spurred on by the revival of interest in the study of Roman law in the Middle Ages. This revived Roman law, in turn, became the foundation of law in all civil law jurisdictions. The provisions of the Corpus Juris Civilis also influenced the Canon Law of the church since it was said that ecclesia vivit lege romana — the church lives under Roman law.[3]

The work was directed by Tribonian, an official in Justinian's court, and distributed in three parts: Digesta (or "Pandectae"), Institutiones, and the Codex Constitutionum. A fourth part, the Novels (or "Novellae Constitutiones"), was added later.

The Corpus Juris Civilis was composed and distributed in the Latin language, which was still the official language of the government of the Empire in 529–534 C.E., whereas the prevalent language of merchants, farmers, seamen, and other citizens was Greek. By the early 7th century, the official government language segued into the Greek under the lengthy reign of Heraclius (610–641).

Contents

Contents

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Codex Justinianus

The Codex Justinianus (Code of Justinian, Justinian's Code) was the first part to be completed, on April 7, 529. It collects the constitutiones of the Roman Emperors. The earliest statute preserved in the code was enacted by Emperor Hadrian; the latest came from Justinian himself. The compilers of the code were able to draw on earlier works such as the official Codex Theodosianus and private collections like the Codex Gregorianus and the Codex Hermogenianus.The emperor was a monarch, his legislative, executive and judicial power was accurate throughout. Due to legal reforms by Justinian himself, this work later needed to be updated, so a second edition of the Codex (the so-called "Codex repetitae praelectionis") was issued in 534, after the Digest. The social order is shown in the later Empire. According to Justinian, the Codex regulated all human and divine affairs and laws from the time of the foundation of Rome by Romulus and Remus into a clear system that was not confusing to the public. The emperor also removed repetitive or iniquitous laws, in order to “afford all men the ready assistance of true meaning.”[citation needed]

Legislation about religion

Numerous provisions serve to secure the status of Orthodox Christianity as the state religion of the empire, uniting Church and state, and making anyone who was not connected to the Christian church a non-citizen.

Laws against heresy

The very first law in the Codex requires all persons under the jurisdiction of the Empire to hold the holy Orthodox (Christian) faith. This was primarily aimed against heresies such as Arianism. This text later became the springboard for discussions of international law, especially the question of just what persons are under the jurisdiction of a given state or legal system.

Laws against paganism

Other laws, while not aimed at pagan belief as such, forbid particular pagan practices. For example, it is provided that all persons present at a pagan sacrifice may be indicted as if for murder.

Laws against Judaism
Alphabetical index on the Corpus Juris (Index omnium legum et paragraphorum quae in Pandectis, Codice et Institutionibus continentur, per literas digestus.), printed by Gulielmo Rovillio, Lyon, 1571

The principle of "Servitude of the Jews" (Servitus Judaeorum) was established by the new laws, and determined the status of Jews throughout the Empire for hundreds of years. The Jews were disadvantaged in a number of ways. Jews could not testify against Christians and were disqualified from holding a public office. Jewish civil and religious rights were restricted: "they shall enjoy no honors". The use of the Hebrew language in worship was forbidden. Shema Yisrael, sometimes considered the most important prayer in Judaism ("Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH is one") was banned, as a denial of the Trinity. A Jew who converted to Christianity was entitled to inherit his or her father's estate, to the exclusion of the still-Jewish brothers and sisters. The Emperor became an arbiter in internal Jewish affairs. Similar laws applied to the Samaritans.

Digesta

The Digesta or Pandectae consist of a collection of legal writings mostly dating back to the second and third centuries. Fragments were taken out of various legal treatises and opinions and inserted in the Digest. In their original context, the statements of the law contained in these fragments were just private opinions of legal scholars.[4] The Digest, however, was given the force of law, like the other parts of the Corpus Juris. This section of the Corpus Juris was completed in 533.

Institutiones

As the Digest neared completion, Tribonian and two professors, Theophilus and Dorotheus, made a students' textbook, called the Institutiones or 'Elements'. As there were four elements, the manual consists of four books. The Institutiones are largely based on the Institutiones of Gaius. Two thirds of the Institutiones of Justinian consists of literal quotes from Gaius. The new Institutiones were used as a manual for jurists in training since 21 November 533 and were given the authority of law on 30 December 533 along with the Digest.

Novellae

The Novellae consisted of new laws that were passed after 534. They were later re-worked into the Syntagma, a practical lawyer's edition, by Athanasios of Emesa during the years 572–77.

Recovery in the West

Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis was distributed in the West[5] but was lost sight of; it was scarcely needed in the comparatively primitive conditions that followed the secession of Italy from the Byzantine empire in 8th century. The only western province where the Justinianic code was effectively introduced was Italy, following its recovery by Byzantine armies (Pragmatic Sanction of 554), but a continuous tradition of Roman law in medieval Italy has not been proven.[6] Historians disagree on the precise way it was recovered in Northern Italy about 1070: perhaps it was waiting unneeded and unnoticed in a library until the legal studies that were undertaken on behalf of papal authority that was central to the Gregorian Reform of Pope Gregory VII led to its accidental rediscovery. Aside from the Littera Florentina, a 6th-century codex of the Pandects that was preserved at Pisa, apparently without ever being publicly consulted, (and removed to Florence after Florence conquered Pisa in 1406), there may have been other manuscript sources for the text that began to be taught at Bologna, by Pepo and then by Irnerius. The latter's technique was to read a passage aloud, which permitted his students to copy it, then to deliver an excursus explaining and illuminating Justinian's text, in the form of glosses. Irnerius's pupils, the so-called Four Doctors of Bologna, were among the first of the "glossators" who established the curriculum of Roman law. The tradition was carried on by French lawyers, known as the Ultramontani, in the 13th century.

The merchant classes of Italian communes required law with a concept of equity and which covered situations inherent in urban life better than the primitive Germanic oral traditions. The provenance of the Code appealed to scholars who saw in the Holy Roman Empire a revival of venerable precedents from the classical heritage. The new class of lawyers staffed the bureaucracies that were beginning to be required by the princes of Europe. The University of Bologna, where Justinian's Code was first taught, remained the dominant centre for the study of law through the High Middle Ages.

Footnotes

  1. ^ The name "Corpus Juris Civilis" occurs for the first time in 1583 as the title of a complete edition of the Justinianic code by Dionysius Godofredus. (Kunkel, W. An Introduction to Roman Legal and Constitutional History. Oxford 1966 (translated into English by J.M. Kelly), p. 157, n. 2)
  2. ^ George Long, in William Smith, ed., A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, (London: Murray) 1875 (On-line text).
  3. ^ Cf. Lex Ripuaria, tit. 58, c. 1: "Episcopus archidiaconum jubeat, ut ei tabulas secundum legem romanam, qua ecclesia vivit, scribere faciat". ([1])
  4. ^ Development of the concepts of jus naturale, jus gentium and jus civile
  5. ^ As the Littera Florentina, a copy recovered in Pisa, demonstrates.
  6. ^ Kunkel, W. (translated by J.M. Kelly) An Introduction to Roman Legal and Constitutional History. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1966; 168-69

See also

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Corpus Juris Civilis or Body of Civil Law is a compendium of Roman law, issued between 529 and 534 by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It forms the ultimate basis of the civil law of most European jurisdictions.

The translations used here are by S. P. Scott. [1]

  • Justitia est constans et perpetua voluntas jus suum cuique tribuens. Jurisprudentia est divinarum atque humanarum rerum notitia, justi atque injusti scientia.
    • Justice is the constant and perpetual desire to give to each one that to which he is entitled. Jurisprudence is the knowledge of matters divine and human, and the comprehension of what is just and what is unjust.
    • Institutes, Bk. 1, title 1. [2]
  • Juris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere.
    • The following are the precepts of the Law: to live honestly, not to injure another, and to give to each one that which belongs to him.
    • Institutes, Bk. 1, title 1.
  • Quod vero naturalis ratio inter omnes homines constituit, id apud omnes populos peraeque custoditur vocaturque jus gentium, quasi quo jure omnes gentes utuntur.
    • But the law which natural reason has established among all mankind and which is equally observed among all peoples, is called the Law of Nations, as being that which all nations make use of.
    • Institutes, Bk. 1, title 2. [3]
  • Jure enim naturali ab initio omnes homines liberi nascebantur.
    • According to Natural Law, all men were originally born free.
    • Institutes, Bk. 1, title 2.
  • Cuius merito quis nos sacerdotes appellet: justitiam namque colimus et boni et aequi notitiam profitemur, aequum ab iniquo separantes, licitum ab illicito discernentes, bonos non solum metu poenarum, verum etiam praemiorum quoque exhortatione efficere cupientes, veram nisi fallor philosophiam, non simulatam affectantes.
    • Anyone may properly call us [lawyers] the priests of this art, for we cultivate justice and profess to know what is good and equitable, dividing right from wrong, and distinguishing what is lawful from what is unlawful; desiring to make men good through fear of punishment, but also by the encouragement of reward; aiming (if I am not mistaken) at a true, and not a pretended philosophy.
    • Pandects, Bk. 1, title 1, section 1, quoting Ulpian, Institutes, Bk. 1. [4]
  • Domus tutissimum cuique refugium atque receptaculum sit.
    • The house of every individual should be for him a perfectly secure refuge and shelter.
    • Pandects, Bk. 2, title 4, section 18, quoting Gaius, On the Law of the Twelve Tables, Bk. 1. [5]
  • Nulla injuria est, quae in volentem fiat.
    • No injury is committed against one who consents.
    • Pandects, Bk. 47, title 10, section 1, quoting Ulpian, On the Edict, Bk. 56. [6]
    • Often quoted as "Volenti non fit injuria".
  • Digna vox majestate regnantis legibus alligatum se principem profiteri: adeo de auctoritate juris nostra pendet auctoritas.
    • It is a statement worthy of the majesty of a reigning prince for him to profess to be subject to the laws; for Our authority is dependent upon that of the law.
    • Codex, Bk. 1, title 14, section 4, quoting an edict of the emperors Theodosius II and Valentinian III. [7]

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