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CODEX THEODOSIA´NUS In A.D. 429, Theodosius II., Emperor of the Eastern Empire, whose capital was Constantinople, communicated to his senate his resolution to form a compilation of the general constitutions issued from the time of Constantine (A.D. 306-337) to his own day, after the model of the Codices Gregorianus and Hermogenianus; and he appointed a commission of a lawyer and eight state officials to execute the scheme. Nothing, however, was done for six years. In A.D. 435 a new commission was appointed of sixteen illustres and spectabiles, presided over, like the earlier one, by Antiochus, and the imperial instructions were repeated; the commissioners were authorised to alter and revise the separate constitutions, to separate into two or more portions those which related to different topics, and to omit what was superfluous or unessential. The result of their labours, known as the Theodosian Code, was published in February, A.D. 438, with statutory force from January 1 in the following year, as the only authority for the jus principale from the reign of Constantine to that date.

The constitutions are arranged in chronological order under Titles and Rubrics, in sixteen Books. The first five, which contain most of the enactments relating to Private law, are in form modelled on the Commentaries on the Edict. The sixth to the eighth books consist principally of administrative and constitutional ordinances; the ninth is Criminal law; the tenth and eleventh relate to the financial system, and in part to procedure; the twelfth to the fifteenth, to the constitution and administration of towns and other corporations; and the sixteenth contains the constitutions which deal with the Church and the ecclesiastical system in general.

Our knowledge of this code is derived partly from incomplete MSS., partly from the Code of Justinian (in which, however, the enactments of the earlier emperors are considerably altered and mutilated), and partly from an epitome of its contents in the BREVIARIUM, in which however whole titles are sometimes omitted altogether. The valuable edition of J. Gothofredus (6 vols. fol., Lugd. 1665, re-edited by Ritter, Lips. 1736-1745) contained the Code in its complete form, except the first five books, for which it was necessary to use the epitome just referred to. This is also the case with the edition of this code contained in the Jus Civile Antejustinianeum of Berlin, 1815. But the discovery of a MS. of the Breviarium at Milan in 1820 by Clossius, and of a palimpsest of the Theodosian Code at Turin by Peyron, has contributed largely both to the critical knowledge of the other parts of this Code, and has added numerous genuine constitutions to the first five books, especially Book I. Haenel's discoveries have added also to our knowledge of the later books, and his edition of the Theodosian Code (1842-1844) is the latest and the best. The epitome of Books 1-5 in the Breviarium is very scanty: 262 laws or fragments of laws were omitted, which the labours of Clossius and Peyron reduced to 200. More recent discoveries by Carlo Bandi have added to the 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 16th Books.

One important result of Theodosius' compilation was to secure to a large extent identity of law in the two empires. The Code was forwarded to Valentinian III., Theodosius' son-in-law and Emperor of the West, who presented it to the Roman senate and published it as law in his dominions. Precautions were also taken against subsequent divergence: the two governments [p. 1.468]agreed that constitutions which either might have occasion to make should be communicated by the one to the other, and, subject to revision by mutual consent, be published by both legislatures: in default of this procedure they should have no universal validity. In contradistinction to the Code, such single enactments were called novellae leges or novels; a number of them were issued in A.D. 448 by Theodosius, and confirmed by Valentinian III. for the West in the following year. The joint style of enactment was actually followed till A.D. 455, and there are several collections of Novels which belong to this period. From the last-mentioned date the tie between the two empires was greatly weakened, though Anthemius (A.D. 467-472) published in the West an enactment issued in the East by Leo; formally, however, the connexion was maintained, so that the new constitutions still bore the names of both emperors, though the place of their issue or the province of the magistrate to whom they were addressed enables one to infer to which of the two empires they more properly belong. The Novels anterior to the time of Justinian are collected in six books in the Jus Civile Antejustinianeum, Berlin, 1815; and in Haenel's more recent edition already referred to. Apart from all comparison between them, it is obvious that the Code of Justinian must have been largely indebted to that of Theodosius, than which it can have had no other authority for the period between A.D. 306 and A.D. 438. The Theodosian Code was also to a large extent the basis of the edict of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, and of the Burgundian Lex Romana, usually termed “Papian;” the epitome of it in the Breviarium or Code of Alaric II. (A.D. 484-507) has been already referred to.


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