Institutiones Iustiniani

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The Institutiones Iustiniani (often: Institutions , short: Inst. Or I. ) are a set of laws of the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian . They are part of the later so-called Corpus iuris civilis (CIC), which also includes the Codex and the Digest . From the year 535, the Novellae were added, a collection of the current individual laws of the emperor.


The institutions in a historical edition by the French lawyer and writer Joseph-Louis-Elzéar Ortolan

The institutions are a collection of writings as an introduction to the digests and are considered to be the authoritative textbook of Roman law. The foundation of the textbook were the high-class Gaian institutions with the same title , which were designed as a beginner's textbook . There are also excerpts from the textbooks of other lawyers, such as Ulpian and Papinian .

Both beginners' textbooks, both the Gaian and the Justinian institutions, were used for legal training. Justinian determined the force of law for both works. This is also the reason why the precisely formally and legally written statements are occasionally interrupted by Justinian reform laws, the style of which appears somewhat intricate and swollen. The authors were two Roman-Greek law teachers ( antecessores ) who taught at the law schools of Beirut and Constantinople , Dorotheos and Theophilos. The work was created - under the lead of Tribonianus - after the publication of the first version of the Codex Iustinianus in 529, but at the same time as the 533 promulgated digests . Didactically, the institutions covered the first year of study, the digests then continued the material for years 2 to 4. 533 new study regulations were introduced in the annex to the text.

The work comprises four books, these divided into titles and paragraphs. Noticeably different than in the digests, the textual titles present themselves continuously, without interruption by references to sources that have been placed elsewhere. In contrast to the four-digit citation of the digests, the institutions are cited in three digits after “book”, “title” and “paragraph”, for example: Inst. 4,3,16.

The Byzantine codification of Justinian falls at the time of the maximum expansion and heyday of East Stream and was supposed to surpass the overall representation of Roman law by the Codex Theodosianus , which was only partially realized almost a hundred years earlier , and thereby succeed for the first time. The aim and task of the institutions was to convey the principles of the legal system to the students, which was in line with classic legal tradition. At the same time, they were intended to provide an orientation aid for the compiled and therefore not more simply designed subject areas of the digests, which included an extensive compilation of fragments from expert reports ( responsae or digestae ), comments and textbooks by important Roman lawyers from the 1st century AD . Century BC to the middle of the 3rd century, mainly to unite the late classic Ulpian and Paulus .

In November 533, the elementa (constitutio Imperatoriam maiestatem) was created , a contemporary, all-round modern textbook. It had been cleared of outdated laws, but it contained a large number of references. This was to be recognized as an authorized textbook, which is why Justinian pronounced a comment ban. Therefore the mentioned reform laws of the emperor were included. In the Authenticum , possibly at the same time, but probably not until around 556, translations of the institutions from Latin into Greek were initially literal (“ kata poda ” - “following on the foot”), which in legal texts was usually consistently ad verbum ; later they dictated their commentary on it ( paragraphaí ).

Forerunner of the Justinian legislature

Late antiquity forerunners of the Justinian codification were the private collections of the Codex Gregorianus , which included constitutions from Hadrian to Diocletian , and the Codex Hermogenianus , which was limited to the decrees of Diocletian. Juristic law ( ius ) existed just like imperial laws ( leges ); both were put together and the content of the thoughts was incorporated. In this context, the Fragmenta Vaticana and the lex Dei were of primary importance.

However, the influence of the Codex Theodosianus mentioned above was outstanding , because it not only shaped the legal landscape from the middle of the 5th century as the official compilation of imperial legislation since Constantine , it also pursued for the first time the (ultimately failed) attempt to create a comprehensive collection of legal and imperial law.

Explanatory manuscripts

For legal lessons, the institutions were probably explained by the so-called Turin Institutional Glossary , which was probably created between 543 and 546 AD.

Text passages from the institutions also appeared in the basilicas , which were drawn up in Greek around 900 AD , taken from a Greek paraphrase that has been almost completely preserved outside the tradition of the basilicas. Some basilica manuscripts contain extensive marginal notes, so-called scholia . They are valuable testimonials for research because they allow comparisons between pre-Justinian classical law and the Justinian codifications in numerous places. Without their existence, much less would be known about the legal development up to the end of the 2nd century.

Development and reception

From the High Middle Ages and well into the 19th century, the institutions at European universities stood both at the beginning and at the end of a law degree. The Italian law teachers of the 12th and 13th centuries , the glossators, were primarily responsible for this. In 1240 Accursius published a text edition of the Corpus iuris , the Glossa ordinaria .

The systematic method of the glossators consisted of adding your own marginal notes or making references to the basic text and providing explanations. This style was abandoned in the 14th century. Instead, systematic large- scale comments were created, the authors of which were the so-called commentators . They too had an eye on the entire work and coordinated the needs of the practice of Roman law with its teachings. In particular, the law teachers Bartolus and Baldus , who worked in Northern Italy, made a name for themselves, so that the mos italicus was spoken of during a flourishing everyday economic life .

In the 16th century, the experts of "humanistic (elegant) jurisprudence" appeared, such as Jacques Cujas , Hugo Donellus and Dionysius Gothofredus . They all shaped the mos gallicus , a French reception style. The usus modernus pandectarum - after Ulrich Zasius, a first forerunner of German-based common law around 1495 AD - finally brought Justinian legislation to a boom in Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first delicate signs of the development potential of over-positive law could be perceived as well as the opposing dogmatics of the historical school of law committed to pandectism . The Codex Maximilianeus Bavaricus Civilis from 1756 was still in the tradition of usus modernus , although it was superimposed on the basis of rational law . The Prussian General Land Law (ALR), which was codified in 1794 and paved the way for liberalism and the Enlightenment, was based far less on Roman law and much more on the law of reason .

Text and translation


  • Jan Dirk Harke : Roman law. From the classical period to the modern codifications (= outline of the law. ). Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-57405-4 , § 2 no. 1-4, pp. 20-22.
  • Herbert Hausmaninger , Walter Selb : Roman private law. Böhlau, Wien et al. 1981, ISBN 3-205-07171-9 , p. 55, (9th, completely revised edition. Ibid 2001, ISBN 3-205-99372-1 ).
  • Heinrich Honsell : Roman law. 5th, supplemented edition. Springer, Berlin et al. 2001, ISBN 3-540-42455-5 , p. 17 f.
  • Caroline Humfress: Law and legal practice in the age of Justinian , in: Michael Maas (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian , Cambridge 2005, pp. 161-184.
  • Wolfgang Kaiser : Authenticity and Validity of Late Antique Imperial Laws. Studies on the Sacra privilegia concilii Vizaceni (= Munich contributions to papyrus research and ancient legal history. Issue 96). Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-55121-5 , p. 251 ff., (At the same time: Munich, University, habilitation paper, 2001).
  • Paul Koschaker : Europe and Roman law. 4th, unchanged edition. Beck, Munich et al. 1966.
  • Wolfgang Kunkel , Martin Schermaier : Roman Legal History (= UTB . 2225). 14th, revised edition. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2225-X , § 11, pp. 208–223.
  • Detlef Liebs : Jurisprudence in late antique Italy. (260–640 AD) (= Freiburg legal-historical treatises. New series, volume 8). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-428-06157-8 , pp. 195-220 ( The legal development of the late period up to Justinian ).
  • Ulrich Manthe : History of Roman law (= Beck'sche series. 2132). Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-44732-5 , pp. 117-122.
  • Franz Wieacker : History of private law in modern times. With special consideration of the German development (= jurisprudence in individual representations. Vol. 7, ZDB -ID 501118-8 ). 2nd, revised edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1967.
  • Bastian Zahn: Introduction to the Sources of Roman Law . In: JURA - Legal Training , 2015, p. 449.

Web links


  1. a b Wolfgang Kunkel, Martin Schermaier: Roman legal history. 14th, revised edition. 2005, § 11, pp. 208-223, here p. 213.
  2. Corpus Iuris Civilis is not a contemporary term, it comes from the humanistic epoch of the late 16th century and was coined by Dionysius Gothofredus in 1583.
  3. a b Jan Dirk Harke: Roman law. From the classical period to the modern codifications. 2008, § 2 no. 1-4, pp. 20-22.
  4. Quoted jurists are: Gaius Aquilius Gallus , Atilicinus, Gaius Cassius Longinus , either Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder or his son Marcus Porcius Cato Licinianus , Gaius Trebatius Testa , Servius Sulpicius Rufus , Quintus Mucius Scaevola (time of the Roman Republic ), Publius Iuventius Celsus , Publius Salvius Iulianus , Marcus Antistius Labeo , Ulpius Marcellus , Aelius Marcianus, Iulius Paulus , Sextus Pomponius , Proculus , Masurius Sabinus , Quintus Cervidius Scaevola (time of the Principate )
  5. ^ A b c Okko Behrends, Rolf Knütel, Berthold Kupisch, Hans Hermann Seiler: Corpus Iuris Civilis. The institutions. Text and translation. 3rd, revised edition. 2007, forewords.
  6. a b c Heinrich Honsell: Roman law. 5th, supplemented edition. 2001, p. 17 f.
  7. initially, namely in the years 528 and 529, he was employed as a mere magister officiorum (head of the imperial chancellery), but due to his outstanding way of thinking and working, he was given the office of quaestor sacri palatii (minister of justice) and the management of the legislative work .
  8. a b c d Herbert Hausmaninger, Walter Selb: Roman private law. 1981, p. 55.
  9. At the beginning of each title is the name of the author and, after that, the information from which script of this author and the book the excerpt is taken ( inscriptio ).
  10. In foreign policy, the reconquest of North Africa and Italy was successful, and after Theodosius I had already banned pagan cults, a political agreement was reached with Justinian in the 6th century: Christianity had finally become the imperial church ( Caesaropapism ).
  11. George Mousourakis: The historical and Institutional Context of Roman Law. Ashgate, Aldershot 2003, ISBN 0-7546-2108-1 , pp. 381-410, here pp. 390 f.
  12. ^ Constitutio Tanta 21
  13. ^ Wolfgang Kaiser: Authenticity and validity of late antique imperial laws. Studies on the Sacra privilegia concilii Vizaceni. 2007, p. 251 ff.
  14. a b c d e Ulrich Manthe: History of Roman law. 2000, pp. 117-122.
  15. ^ Detlef Liebs: Jurisprudence in late antique Italy. (A.D. 260-640). 1987, pp. 195-220.