Pragmatic Sanction (Roman Law)

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As Pragmatic Sanction ( Latin sanctio pragmatica or pragmatica sanctio ) is called in Roman law of late antiquity a solemn legislative act of the emperor.

Pragmatic sanction in ancient times

Usually imperial orders are referred to as sanctiones pragmaticae , which contain a regulation for an individual case or special provisions for certain persons or a certain area. A precise demarcation from other forms of legislation by the emperor is not possible. The term has been traceable since the 5th century, but probably goes back to Constantine the Great .

Probably the best-known pragmatic sanction of antiquity is the sanctio pragmatica pro petitione Vigilii , with which Emperor Justinian I put his codes of law, the codex , the digests , the institutions and his own legislation into force in the Italian provinces in 554 after he had passed Italy from the Ostrogoths had recaptured. Donations by Ostrogothic rulers to the Senate and the people of Rome and edicts of Theodoric from the year 500 were recognized, while donations and administrative acts by Totilas were revoked.

Pragmatic Sanction in the Middle Ages and in the Early Modern Age

In the Middle Ages and in the early modern period, the term from Roman law was used for particularly solemn edicts (ordinances) of a sovereign , with which the monarch regulated an important state matter through a constitution that claimed inviolability and eternal validity.

The best-known example in the German-speaking area is probably the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, through which Emperor Charles VI. made a subordinate female line of succession possible in the Habsburg lands, which led to the succession of his daughter Maria Theresa . Further examples:

In order to express that the Peace of Westphalia should apply in the empire like a solemn law, the Osnabrück Peace Treaty of 1648 expressly provided that the treaty should be viewed as “ perpetua lex et pragmatica Imperii sanctio ”.


  • Wolfgang Kaiser : Authenticity and Validity of Late Antique Imperial Laws. Studies on the Sacra privilegia concilii Vizaceni . Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-55121-5 , ( Munich contributions to papyrus research and ancient legal history 96), pp. 120f.
  • Peter Kussmaul: Pragmaticum and Lex. Forms of late Roman legislation 408-457 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1981, ISBN 3-525-25163-7 , ( Hypomnemata - investigations into antiquity and their afterlife 67), (also: Heidelberg, Univ., Habil-Schr., 1978).
  • Giulio Vismara : Pragmatica sanctio . In: Lexikon des Mittelalters VII, Sp. 166.
  • Franz Wieacker : Jurisprudence from the early Principate to the end of antiquity in the Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman jurisprudence through to Justinian legislation. A fragment from the estate . Edited by Joseph Georg Wolf. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-33928-X , ( Handbook of Classical Studies . Dept. 10: Legal History of Antiquity . Part: 3, Volume 1: Roman Legal History. Source studies, legal education, jurisprudence and legal literature . Section 2), P. 192f.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Franz Dölger - Johannes Karayannopulos, Byzantinische Urkundenlehre. First section. The imperial documents , Munich 1968, p. 78
  2. ^ Heinrich Mitteis : Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History . The German Department (GA, ISSN 0323-4045). 63, p. 155 .; Paul Koschaker : Europe and Roman law . 4th edition. Beck, Munich 1966, DNB 457278439 . ( The glossators and their predecessors ) p. 56.