Roman Law

.. man leader made such additions. (Augustus Caesar, Comptons 96) In 9 AD, Varies, the governor of Germany, was lured into a trap and three Roman legions were wiped out; all of Germany was lost. Since Augustus had neither the energy nor the military strength to start a re-conquest, the Roman frontier remained essentially on the Rhine. Yet, the Mediterranean world attained peace and prosperity under the government of Augustus, who was celebrated in temples, statues, and dedications as an earthly redeemer. The Empire was expensive in its demands of men for the armed forces and of money to support the political system, but the accompanying economic expansion supported these burdens without great difficulty for two centuries and more. First Legal Code In the 3rd century AD the decrees or laws issued by the emperors gained increasing importance in the Roman legal system.

Theodosius II, ruler of the Byzantine Empire, in AD438, published the first codification of this imperial legislation, the Codex Theodosianus. Theodosius entertained, but did not carry out, a broader plan, involving an official digest of the older law, as set forth in the juristic literature. Subsequently Justinian I appointed a committee of ten jurists, the most famous of who was his chief legal minister, Tribonian, to make such a digest. ( In the sixth century AD, the Eastern Roman Emperor, Justinian (Iustinianus), ordered the compilation of several law codes. These codes were based on much older sources of law, mostly statutes and legal writings from the classical period.

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They were the Institutes (Institutiones), the Digest (Digesta or Pandectae), and the Code (Codex). The Institutes is a book largely copied from the Institutes of Gaius – written 300 years prior. The rules contained in the Institutes were given legal force in many countries; consequently the work may be regarded as both a textbook and a statute. The Digest is a collection of fragments from scholarly writings. Like the rules contained in the Institutes, the legal opinions expressed in these fragments were often given legal force.

The Code is a collection of imperial statutes. The Novellae is a collection of the laws issued by Justinian and his successors. The revised Codex Constitutionum was a compilation of all imperial legislation up to AD534. The law books published by Justinian, the Institutiones, the Digesta and the Codex, together with the Novellae, are collectively known as the Corpus Juris Civilis. ( Application of Roman Law In Medieval times (from about the 11th century onward) there was a renewed interest in the law of the Romans. Initially, Roman Law was only studied by scholars and taught at the universities, Bologna being the first place where Roman Law was taught.

Soon Roman Law came to be applied in legal practice–especially in the area of civil law. (Civil Law, Comptons 96) This process of (re-) adoption (reception) of Roman Law occurred at varied times and to various extents across all of Europe (England being the most important exception). Thus from about the 16th century onward, Roman Law was in force throughout most of Europe. However, in the process of adoption/reception many Roman rules were amalgamated with, or amended to suit, the legal norms of the various European nations. Thus, Roman rules, applied in Europe at this period, were by no means identical with Roman Law from antiquity. Nonetheless, because the law that had evolved was common to most European countries, it was called the Ius Commune (common law). (Civil Law, Comptons 96) In the form of the Ius Commune, Roman Law was in force in many jurisdictions until national codes superseded these rules in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In many regions of the German Reich, Roman Law remained the primary source of legal rules until the introduction of the German Civil Code in 1900. When the Medieval scholars started to study the old texts of the Corpus Iuris again, they first wrote explanations concerning the meaning of single words in the texts (glosses). Based on earlier works of this kind, at the beginning of the 13th century, Accursius of Bologna wrote a collection of such glosses to the texts of the Digest and the Code. This seminal work destined previous piecemeal attempts to oblivion. It was simply called The Gloss (glossa ordinaria) and all further elaboration of the Ius Commune proceeded from Accursius’ gloss. ( Conclusion Law develops as society evolves. Beginning in the 15th century, many European countries extensively colonized North and South America, Africa, and parts of Asia.

Colonial expansion spread the civil law system as colonizers imposed their system of law on their colonies. After achieving independence, some former colonies retained the legal system established by the colonizer. For example, the African nation of Senegal has retained the civil law system established by France. Other former colonies chose a modified civil law system. (Civil Law, Comptons 96) The state of Louisiana, unlike all other American states, has a civil law system for non-criminal matters.

This system originated during the period when Louisiana was a colony of France and then Spain. (Civil Law, Comptons 96) Some former colonies based their new legal systems not on the specific civil law system of their colonizer, but on the civil law tradition in general. For example, Bolivia, a former Spanish colony, adopted a system closely modeled on the French code. A few countries that were never colonized by countries with civil law systems, such as South Korea and Greece, have independently adopted the civil law model. A few countries maintain a mixed legal system, combining elements of civil law with other legal influences.

For example, Scotlands legal system includes elements of civil and common law. Several African and Middle Eastern countries have civil law systems that contain elements of Islamic law. The common-law systems of England, and later of the U.S., developed in a different manner. Before the Norman Conquest (1066), England was a loose confederation of societies, the laws of which were largely tribal and local. The Anglo-Norman rulers created a system of centralized courts that operated under a single set of laws that superseded the rules laid down by earlier societies.

This legal system, known as the common law of England, began with common customs, but over time it involved the courts in lawmaking that was responsive to changes in society. (Common Law, Comptons 96) Today Roman Law has been replaced by modern codes. These codes, however, did not create new law from scratch. But rather to a large extent, the rules of Roman Law that had been transmitted were placed in a statutory framework, which provided a modern, systematic order. This is particularly true in regard to the German Civil Code.

To fully understand the German Civil Code, it is necessary to know about the legal foundation upon which it rests. As this is true in regard to German law, it is equally true in regard to most modern European legal systems. Most important of all, Roman Law will have great significance in regard to the formation of uniform legal rules, which further the process of political integration in Europe. Roman Law is the common foundation upon which the European legal order is built. Therefore, it can serve as a source of rules and legal norms that will easily blend with the national laws of the many and varied European states. Bibliography Ancient Timeline.

100 BC- 100AD. 99. Nov. 11. Tour Egypt. The Roman Empire. 99. Nov. 11. Ancient Rome. Comptons 96 Encyclopedia.

1996 ed. Augustus Caesar. Compton’s 96 Encyclopedia. 1996 ed. Civil Law. Comptons 99 Encyclopedia.

1999 ed. Common Law. Comptons 99 Encyclopedia. 1999 ed.