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A term of Roman law signifying the acquisition of full and complete ownership (“Quiritary”) through undisputed possession for a prescribed period of time (Dig. xli. 3, 3). Only persons having commercium (q. v.) could exercise this right, and it did not, of course, apply to stolen property (res furtivae), and certain other things were exempted by law from acquisition through usucapio—e. g. property belonging to minors under guardianship, property belonging to towns, etc. (See also Pignus.) So sweeping, however, was the right of usucapio that if a man took possession of a piece of land or other property belonging to an inheritance, even though he knew that he had no title to it, and held it unchallenged for a year, it became his in full legal ownership (Gaius, ii. 54). See Schirmer, Grundidee der Usucapion (1855); Puchta, Institutionen. 239, 240; and the article Dominium.

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