Codex Iustinianus

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Corpus iuris civilis Romani. Institutiones et Digestae . Gothofredus , 1583

The Codex Iustinianus is one of four parts of the later so called Corpus iuris civilis . The collection of laws was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Justinian on February 13, 528 with the Constitutio de novo codice componendo (also called Constitutio Haec ) as the first of the four codifications. The order was made with the intention of compiling all of the imperial laws that were still in force and, in addition, of implementing a uniform codification of late ancient Roman law . In return, compilers were given considerable leeway in terms of shortening and updating the material to be viewed. It was brought together from earlier private and public collections.


Contradictions in content between the classical Roman law, which was written in Latin and was highly regarded during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and the late antique legal practice of the 5th and 6th centuries, represented a considerable, if not insurmountable, obstacle to the imperial administration Contradictions should be eliminated through additional additions to the imperial constitutions as part of an overall codification. The language of the Codex Iustinianus is Latin throughout, because around 530 it was still predominant in the Eastern Roman administration and jurisdiction. However, the influence of Greek increased, which is why Justinian, although a native Latin speaker himself, had most of the new laws published in Greek after 535 in order to be easier for the population to understand.

Justinian's quaestor sacri palatii , Tribonian , led the compilation. He was assisted by legal scholars from the famous Beirut School of Law , but he also received help from the University of Constantinople . The Codex was created , consisting of 12 books. Book 1 regulates canon law, books 2–8 deal with private law and the associated procedural law. Book 9 contained compiled criminal and criminal procedural law . Books 10–12 dealt with administrative and financial law.

The first version of the Codex was already put into effect on April 7, 529 by the Constitutio Summa and was to be the sole source of imperial law from April 16 of that year. This version was replaced on November 16, 534 ( Constitutio Cordi ) by a second ( Codex Repetitae Praelectionis ), which was to apply from December 29, 534 and - with a few gaps - has been preserved. Fragments of the first version of 529 have only survived on papyrus (especially P. Oxy. XV 1814), which allows some conclusions to be drawn about the differences between the two versions. These were mainly due to the Quinquaginta decisiones ("Fifty Decisions"), new provisions of Justinian on central points that had been issued since 530 and made the first version of the Codex appear outdated at an early stage.

The Codex offered a comprehensive representation of the still valid imperial laws ( rescripts ) from the time of the Emperor Hadrian (117 to 138) up to the year 534 and thus, together with the Codex Theodosianus, which is about a hundred years older, represents the most important source for both classical Roman law also for the legal practice of late antiquity . It was important that all laws not included in the Codex from then on lost their validity, while all the edicts collected in it gained direct legal force. It is disputed how intensively the compilers intervened in the wording of older edicts and rescripts. In any case, they often deleted what specifically indicated a legal regulation. This still makes it difficult to evaluate the legacies.

Justinian's lawyers chose Hadrian's edicts as the starting point because he was the ruler who had the praetorical edict written down. This had changed the way Roman law was legislated. The Codex was supplemented in its own books by the Greek translations of imperial constitutions, which implemented the writings of classical jurists , such as the Digest and a legal textbook, the Institutiones Iustiniani . Internal contradictions between the works were largely eliminated, and all of them combined to form what was later known as the Corpus iuris civilis . Finally, from 535 onwards, the novellae were added . These contained Justinian's new imperial decrees, which were (also) drafted in Greek, provided they did not primarily concern parts of the empire in Latin. Many of the novellas have only survived in the Greek version, but there is much to suggest that there were always official Latin versions, at least for Justinian's laws that were valid throughout the empire.

The Codex Iustinianus was preceded by older private collections of imperial constitutions, such as the Diocletian , who created the Gregorian and Hermogenian codices around the end of the 2nd century . The official collection of Emperor Theodosius is also of importance . His codex was created in 438 . The complete works represented the final climax of ancient Roman law. In the late late antiquity and in the early Middle Ages, the Codex gained little importance, relatively even the larger in the west of the empire, where the Codex Theodosianus was, however, much more influential. Its full effect, the work could develop only when he in the Middle Ages in the University of Bologna had been rediscovered and henceforth rezipiert was. To this day, the Codex has an impact on European legal systems. Not only the Codex Iustinianus , but also the other parts of the Corpus Iuris experienced their renaissance in Western Europe .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The relationship between the Digest and the Codex, which contained prohibitions of prejudice, was particularly problematic. Compare Digest 1.3.38 and Codex 7.45.13 .; The tension between the two books was mostly resolved by either emphasizing the independent significance of the digests or, conversely, downplaying them.
  2. Mehrdad Payandeh : Judicial Generation of Law. Theory, dogmatics and methodology of the effects of prejudices. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2017, ISBN 978-3-16-155034-8 . Pp. 71-73.