previous next

Codex Iustinianēus

The motives by which the emperor Justinian was induced to codify the enactments of himself and earlier emperors were the scarcity of copies of the Code of Theodosius, and the consequent divergence between the law there laid down and that actually applied in the courts (Cod. i. 17, 2, 17). Accordingly, in February, A.D. 528, he appointed a commission of codification of ten persons, among them being Tribonianus, who played so important a part in the legislative work of the next few years, and who perhaps suggested to his master his whole scheme of legal reform. Their instructions were to compile a single code out of those of Gregorianus, Hermogenianus, and Theodosius II., and the imperial constitutions issued since the enactment of the last, whether by Justinian himself or his predecessors. They were authorized to omit all that was unnecessary or superfluous (e. g. preambles), to reconcile such enactments as were inconsistent with one another, and, where convenience required, to combine several into one, or to make any alterations in individual constitutions which they should deem necessary. The separate laws, whether technically edicta, rescripta, or decreta, were to be arranged in chronological order under generic titles; and each, so far as was possible, identified by date and the name of the prince to whom it owed its enactment. The work was completed in April, A.D. 529, and was published under the name Codex Iustinianeus, with force of law from the 16th of that month. The older codices and constitutions were at the same time deprived of all validity, and it was even forbidden to appeal to any leges cited in the writings of the jurists if they had been incorporated, even in a modified form, in the new code.

In the interval of four years and a half between this date and the completion of the Institutes (November, A.D. 533), Justinian had issued a large number of new constitutions of his own. This seemed to him to necessitate a revision of the Codex. Accordingly in the next year he appointed a new commission, consisting of Tribonianus, Dorotheus, professor at Berytus, and three others, for this purpose. Within a few months (November, A.D. 534) the original code and the constitutions issued after its enactment were deprived of all authority and withdrawn from circulation, their place being taken by the Codex Repetitae Praelectionis, or Codex which has come down to us. In this Justinian's own constitutions were incorporated, as well as many others which the earlier code had not contained. The Codex Repetitae Praelectionis consists of twelve books, each of which is divided into “titles” and “rubrics”; the single constitutions are arranged under their several titles in the order of time and with the names of the emperors by whom they were respectively made, and their dates.

The enactments in this code do not go further back than those of Hadrian, and those of his immediate successors are few in number. The arrangement corresponds tolerably closely with that of the Digest, the seven parts into which the fifty books of the latter are distributed answering to books i.-ix. of the code; but the matter of the last three books of the code is hardly treated of in the Digest. See Institutiones.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: