Talk:Corpus Juris Civilis

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Byzantine law is not just The Corpus Juris Civilis[edit]

It underwent major reforms during the Macedonian Dynasty, and it also had a profound impact on maritime law. This article should be broken down to reflect these points and others in more detail. --Anon

I am in agreement, there needs to be a general Byzantine law article with a segment on the Corpus Juris Civilis. --Caponer 15:14, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

The Corpus Iuris and Judaism[edit]

In the course of my edit, I removed the following language from the beginning of the article.

"It was profoundly anti-semitic. It reduced the jews to citizens of second class. Judaism was described as an "infectious disease" which led to death."

This was inserted by an anonymous user yesterday and I think it was not an entirely appropriate statement for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is certainly true that the Corpus Iuris contains a nuber of provisions which discriminate against Jews. Still, I think it is not justified to characterize it as "profoundly antisemitic" and still less justified to place this statement at the beginning of a (currently very short) encyclopedia article on the CIC. This gives the impression as if anti-semitism were the single most important feature of the CIC. This is not the case. Discriminatory provisions constitute only a fraction of the texts of the CIC. Moreover, these provisions were taken over in large part from preivious legislation. The above-quoted statement gives the impression as if anti-semitic laws had been newly introduced at the occasion of the promulgatioon of the Corpus Iuris.
  2. I was unable to verify the specific assertion that "Judaism was described as an "infectious disease" which led to death." anywhere in the CIC. No such language seems to exist in C. 1, 9, the title of Justinian's Code dealing specifically with the legal status of Jews.

For these reasons, I replaced the paragraph in question with a more detailed and softer statement regarding the reflection of the Empire's social order in the CIC and specifically the position of Jews. I moved this text from the beginning of the article to the section dealing with the Codex Justinianus. I think this is more appropriate since the Code is the part which contains most (if not all) of the disciminatory provisions. I would like to leave it to further discussion whether it is advisable to write about the discriminatory provisions in the CIC at such length in this article.

I completely deleted the text regarding judaism as an infectious disease. If someone comes up with a source containing such language, it could be put back in.

I hope these changes are acceptable to all, including the user who inserted the original paragraph. Otherwise I'll be happy to discuss all suggestions for futher improvements and enhancements of the text. --Thomas Ruefner 20:16, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I don't think the paragraph on anti-Jewish legislation belongs in this article at all: it makes it sound as if this legislation exists as a separate volume alongside the Codex, the Digest and the Novellae. The information is important, but should go to some more general article on late Roman law. --Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da) 13:34, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Request name change to Byzantine Law[edit]

I want to enlarge this article to cover a wider variety of time, I have a few good sources now so can we change it?

You could write a separate article, since they are not exactly the same. Adam Bishop 08:28, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
I concur with Adam. Rodney Boyd 11:55, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
I am willing to make a compromise over this, so I'll start one tomorrow.
I agree with Adam and Rodney — Corpus Juris Civilis should be an article on its own. Of course, if you create an article on Byzantine Law, CJC would warrant some space in it, with a Template:Main tag directing the reader to CJC for more info. — Joe Kress 01:51, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
I am not sure how to do this, but I think we should have body of civil law redirect here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:03, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Civil law is a broader subject than the corpus of Roman law, which in turn is not fully embodied in the specific documents that are the subject of this article. Each civil law has its own corpus. --Wetman 14:11, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Unintellectual addition[edit]

Someone had made a rather unintellectual addition to this page. I think I managed to remove it, however am new to Wikipedia was in the second section..—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Thanks for your help, but other than my recent reversion of vandalism, the only recent "attempt to remove vandalism" was by Lulujannings who only merged two previously separate paragraphs (in the second section), which is writing style, not vandalism. — Joe Kress 05:40, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

"It is certainly true that the Corpus Iuris contains a nuber of provisions which discriminate against Jews", byzantine law ....Judaism... racism... Totally shocked here. Folks, where did you study Roman Law Institutions? Who were your professors? --Jack 1:30, 17 Jan 2007 (UTC)


Justinian was a survivor of the plague, although it took it's toll on him and he later suffered many effects of the disease. This may have taken a few years off what his life span would have been.

This can be mentioned in the Justinian article. I doubt what effect it may have had on his life span, as he died in his eighties. Iblardi 15:11, 28 May 2007 (UTC)


I disagree with part of the intro particularly the following statement.

Justinian gave orders to collect legal materials of various kinds into several new codes which became the basis of the revival of Roman law in the Middle Ages.

This seems to imply Roman law was effectively dead worldwide and Justinian brought about a renaissance. That implication is completely untrue. Roman law was alive and well in the empire. Justinian's contribution was to codify and organize what had been a patchwork of legislation.

What is true is that in the West Roman law had largely died out and when the West began to reorganize itself they adopted Justinian's code as the basis for their new legal systems (at that time they were not "denying" the Romanness of the Eastern Roman Empire as Western historians of the Renaissance did).

Also, by the same token is it appropriate to call Justinian a "Byzantine Emperor"? Granted the point in history where "Roman" history ends and "Byzantine" history begins is highly debated. But, among other things, the term "Byzantine" tends to be reserved for the period when the empire switched to being strictly Greek-speaking and stopped associating itself with the West. Given that Latin was the language of Justinian's court, and he was the one that tried to restore the empire, it seems odd to not call him the Roman Emperor. The Justinian I article refers to him as the Eastern Roman Emperor which seems more appropriate.

--Mcorazao 05:25, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

"Roman" is correct. In Justinian's day the people of the Eastern Roman Empire, by then the eastern remainder of the whole Empire, called themselves "Romans" (even though they usually said it in Greek) and tended to look down upon western Romans as losers. Constantinople (formerly a Greek town, Byzantion) had been developed by Constantine I in the fourth century as a substitute capital for the whole empire. In the introductory part of the Corpus Iuris Civilis, the Institutes, Justinian is fanfared with Roman titles, "Imperator Caesar Flavius Justinianus ... semper Augustus (Emperor and Caesar, Flavius Justinian ... forever Augustus)" and speaks of himself as "princeps Romanus (roughly: head of the Roman state)". As long as this is borne in mind, there may be no harm in thinking of him - in a broader perspective - as "Byzantine". And, anyway, "Constantinopolitan" is unspeakable. --Wikiain (talk) 03:33, 20 November 2010 (UTC)


People who haven't read any history seem to have such a problem over this descriptive term. It was confidently deleted here, where it is currently being used to modify Odoacer's kingdom, suggestive of. Odoacer's struggle to keep up Roman appearances. "Sub-Roman" is such a clear signifier: do people think it means "sub-human" or something? I'm hornswoggled. --Wetman (talk) 20:39, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Very strange statement. In Theodorich's kingdom Roman law was respected nothing less than in Odoacer's. And it was finally defeated by Byzantines. So we can speak of vanishing of Roman law in Italy only after 727 or larer when Italy secessed from Byzantine empire (but not in whole). Parts of Italy remained under Byzantines at least until Lombard invasion in the mid 8th century. So Roman law could be in oblivion only between mid-8th century and mid-11th century. Not so long time.-- (talk) 18:07, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Correct name Corpus Iuris Civilis?[edit]

Why is it called "Corpus Juris Civilis", I thought in Latin "J" did not exist? Gryffindor 20:30, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

I Think Juris should be changed to Iuris. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Twodogsstuck (talkcontribs) 04:03, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

One form is not necessarily more correct than the other. It's just a matter of spelling convention. In classical Latin, the sound j did exist, but it was represented by the letter i. Differentiation between the letters i and j only occurred in the Middle Ages. Since the name "Corpus Juris Civilis" was coined in the 16th century, there is no reason to use classical spelling conventions here; this could in fact be argued anachronistic, because unlike classical proper names, historically this title was never spelled that way. Iblardi (talk) 11:15, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Why is Scots law based upon Roman law?[edit]

A discussion on the origins of the Scottish legal system is taking place at WikiProject Scotland. Editors of this article may be able to throw light on the topic. To contribute to the discussion, please click here. References, per WP:VERIFY, would be especially welcome! Thank you in advance. --Mais oui! (talk) 08:07, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Should the Time Period Be Characterized As the "Middle Ages" or "Late Antiquity"?[edit]

The article states: "Justinian gave orders to collect legal materials of various kinds into several new codes, spurred on by the revival of interest in the study of Roman law in the Middle Ages." While it may be technically correct to refer to this period as Early Medieval, most people would think of the Sixth Century as being more Late Antiquity. Indeed, the characterization "Late Antiquity" seems especially appropriate for the Corpus Juris Civilis, because it represents the final development of a Roman institution rather than the beginning of what would become a Medieval institution. Indeed, the CJC was essentially forgotten in Western Europe during the Early Middle Ages. It was Western Europe's rediscovery of the CJC at the end of the 11th Century/beginning of the 12th Century that gave rise to the CJC's status as the primary source of law in modern Continental Europe, a hiatus that suggests the CJC's origin should be understood more as Late Roman than as Early Medieval. It has even been commented that the timing of the discovery of the CJC is one reason why the common law system arose in England, while the civil law system took root in Continental Europe. England had to fashion a new legal system following the Norman Conquest of 1066, and this was done on the basis of traditional law because there was no other source of law available. Less than a century later, as Continental European economic institutions were becoming more complex and the CJC was being rediscovered, the CJC began to be adopted on the Continent -- through the influence of universities -- because it offered a set of rules appropriate for increasingly complex market economies -- which had not existed in Europe for centuries. England did not join in this adoption, largely because England had just created a new legal system and was still in the process of adapting its newly-developed legal institutions to the changing conditions of the time. Thus, the common law system may be seen as Medieval in origin, while the civil law system may be seen as Roman in origin, or at least in inspiration. Since the CJC represents the end of Roman law rather than the beginning of Medieval law, it may be more appropriate to describe its time period as that of Late Antiquity. Bob99 (talk) 14:00, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree, Bob99. My colleagues specialising in history of this period (who refer to themselves nicely as "late antiques") certainly classify the period as Late Antiquity, distinct from later periods that are characterised as "Middle Ages" and "medieval". Aside from labels, as you say the medieval "revival of interest" is totally separate from Justinian's work. But the article seriously confuses the whole CJC/CIC with the part of it, the Code (Codex) that is a collection of extracts from legislation and, in effect, an update of the Theodosian Code (Codex Theodosiani). As I expect you will know, The whole CJC/CIC consists of: the Code, in its second edition; the Digest (Digesta), which is a collection of extracts from juristic writings; the Institutes (Institutiones), which is/are an introductory textbook and a bit more; and the Novels (Novellae), which are later laws of Justinian (not collected by him but I think intended by him to be incorporated in a further edition of the Code). --Wikiain (talk) 01:20, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Manuscripts, preservation...[edit]

A section on the existing manuscripts, their quality, and the general question of how well the text has been preserved, would be very useful, as for most texts from before the printing age. So if you know about this (I don't), please add something. -- (talk) 11:18, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

See Littera Florentina. There are at least four levels of enquiry to pursue, interdependently: condition of manuscripts; accuracy of transcription; editions and prospects thereof; and accuracy of translation. A good starting point is Roman Law Resources. --Wikiain (talk) 04:00, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Legislation about religion[edit]

On 9 December 20110, user changed "uniting Church and state" to "creating a pseudo-theocracy". I have reverted this, as (said with necessary brevity) "casting more shadow than light". How Justinian's regime is to be characterised is much debated: it used to be termed "caesaro-papism", but that has fallen out of use as imprecise, and perhaps anachronistic in both elements. "Uniting", too, is vague, since the association between church and state was through the emperor as head of both rather than an institutional combination - governors and bishops had their distinct spheres. It can also be questioned whether this structure was achieved by Justinian's laws or only registered in them as something already in existence. One has at least to distinguish earlier laws that are recorded in the Code from those that had been enacted by Justinian himself. I would leave "uniting Church and state", as begging questions but not mortgaging them to any particular answer. Answers might be introduced later in the section, or linked to if they are provided elsewhere. --Wikiain (talk) 23:09, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

”Uniting Church and state” is inaccurate and stating that Justinian was the head of both the state and the church is simply untrue: in Eastern Orthodoxy there is no head of the Church, the only ones with authority are the bishops of the Church. Eastern emperors were often considered collaborators and co-workers of the Christian Church but not once were they given a papal-like status, as evident by the temporal excommunication of emperor Theodosius by Pope/Bishop Ambrosius and emperor Leo the Isaurian's iconoclastic views that were firmly rejected by most of the church's bishops. Furthermore, except for a few exceptional cases, bishops never held political office and emperors never held the title ”Pontifex Maximus”. Justinian never was a bishop, much less a head of the church. In the Byzantine Empire the state and the church collaborated with each other but they weren't ruled by one and the same authority, so Byzantium wasn't exactly a theocracy. Emperors based their policy on Christianity at lot but they weren't authorities of the Christian Church and they had no say in terms of religious doctrine, or if they did their word wasn't final since it had to be approved by the church bishops. Byzantium was a rather secular-religious hybrid. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:32, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Codex repetitae praelectionis[edit]

Why does the above-named re-working of the Code, which came into force in 534 by the constitutio Cordi, not feature in this article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

I've now done that, in the course of working toward this being an article that focuses on the CIC as a whole, to be supported by separate articles on each of the four parts - two of which already exist. (Please sign your comments, so that we can discuss more effectively.) --Wikiain (talk) 00:05, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Hello Noailles[edit]

Hello and welcome, Noailles - since you don't yet have a talk page. I think you've made some useful contributions in this and related articles, but I also think they need to be more checked out and more clearly presented - for example, using citation templates which you can find in Help. Best wishes --Wikiain (talk) 23:56, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Codex Repetitae Praelectionis[edit]

This has been created is anyone want to expand it. Philafrenzy (talk) 16:01, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

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