- The art of the Con
Justinian's Code: 529 AD
Justinianâ€™s laws were the runners
of the modern concept of justice.
Emperor of Byzantium is best remembered for his codification of Roman law in a series of books called Corpus Juris Civilis. His collection served
as an important basis for law in that contemporary society, and was inspired
by logic-based Greek legal principles. Many legal maxims still in use today
are derived from Justinian's Code. His work inspired the modern concept and,
indeed, the very spelling of "justice". It also had legs, this Roman
Code survived in many parts of
Germany until 1900 and important traces of it can still be found in the laws of Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Quebec.
Roman law formed the base of civil law, one of the two main legal systems to
govern modern society in Western civilization (the other being English common
He was the first to put a definition to those things “which are common to all.
"The things which are common to all (and not capable of being owned) are:
the air, running water, the sea and the seashores."
The Roman law created by Justinian has carried some
of its most important elements into our justice system of today. Many of the
laws on our statutes had their basis in the laws that Justinian created and
his organizational conceptions of how the legal process should best operate
are an important part of our culture today. The original law system utilized
by the Romanâ€™s was the “Law of the Twelve Tablets” (or tables)
The Tablets had existed as long ago as 450 BC and the system of government that
existed then was hardly what followed almost a millennium later. Thus, Roman
law was always a work in process and changes occurred slowly but without a hiatus
over the following years. The law as practiced when Justinian came to power
was more like the English Common Law then the Twelve Tablets.
These new “Common Laws” formally enacted during
the passage of time by at first, tribal assemblies and as the culture became
more sophisticated, by the Senate with oversight by the emperor. This evolutionary
process continued until 130 AD when Emperor Hadrian instituted something he
called the “Perpetual Edict” which was intended to replace both the “The Law
of the Twelve Tablets” and the Common Law that had massaged and clarified it.
The two were consolidated into Hadrianâ€™s “Perpetual Edict” However, when these
often diametrically opposed theories were folded together, chaos evolved for
lack of precedent and common practice. This caused the creation of an entirely
new class of authorities relative to the law, the Jurisconsults, who became
recognized experts in all facets of legal affairs, the interpretation, the definition,
and expertization. These folks were used, often in a forum like structure by
both or either side, for the purpose of devising the best strategy for their
cases. It was something like a combination of mediation and modern courtroom
procedure. The appeal process however, was simplistic; the Emperors rulings
were always binding on everyone and were written for the part, clumsily into
By the time the orderly Justinian became Emperor, it was difficult
to determine who was doing what to whom and how often. Moreover, the Roman Empire had recently been acting like the
moon, waxing and waning relative to battlefield victories and defeats. Interpretations
of the Roman law became convoluted in far off parts of the country and the laws
were not being administered on a level playing field. The appeal process became
an abortion as conflicting regional laws made logical interpretations incredibly
In a manner similar to that of William the First, Justinian
pulled in all the laws that were on the books throughout the empire. He fist
attempted to remove the contradictions and then created a universality of regulations
without regard for local customs. The code was finished in 533 AD and basically
contained several distinct parts.
A. the Institutes A basic legal textbook for students
(and a good source of pithy definitions and maxims).
B. the Digest (Pandects) A selection and logical classification of the currently valid
response of the jurisconsults.
C. the Codex A classification of the currently
valid imperial constitutiones and earlier enactments into a statutory code.
D. the Novels
to the code adopted during the reign of Justinian.”
Law, which was a compendium of the better parts of the laws that had been created
for a millennium. His creation was well-organized and allowed efficient utilization.
However, Justinian had over reached from a viewpoint of both his resources both
manpower and government reconstitution. His push to physically recreate the
geographic borders that had existed at the height of the
Roman Empire had succeeded to a large extent but upon
his death, they could not be consolidated or held. Justinian had created the
ability of Rome to go out in style and soon that was exactly