. Alaric, the second king of the
Visigoths (A.D. 484-507), who reigned over part of Gaul and Spain,
commissioned a body of jurists, no doubt Romans, to make a selection from
Roman statute law and from the writings [p. 1.317]
jurists which should form a code for the use of his Roman subjects. The code
was completed in the twenty-second year of Alaric's reign (A.D. 506), and
was then submitted to a council of bishops and nobles held at Aduris (Aire
in Gascony), by which it was approved. The work was promulgated under the
direction of Gojarich, the comes palatii,
the transmission of a certified copy of it to each comes.
These copies were accompanied with a commonitorium
or proclamation which explained the character of the
work, and prohibited the use of any other law or legal form (ut in foro tuo nulla alia lex neque juris formula
proferri vet recipi praesumatur
The signature of Anianus, the referendarius
king, was attached to each official copy for the purpose of giving it
authenticity; a circumstance which has been so far misunderstood that
Anianus has been considered by some critics as the compiler of the code,
which has been called Breviarium Aniani.
The name Breviarium
Alaricianum or Breviarium does not appear before the 16th century, from
which time it becomes common. The title given to the work in the commonitorium
is Codex de Thleodosiani
legibus atque sententiis juris vel diversis libris electus.
some of the MSS. it is called Lex Theodosii, from the title of the first
part of its contents; in others it is named, from its second part, liber juris, liber legis doctorum, liber juridicus.
It is often described by the general title, Lex Romana. The following are
the contents of the Breviarium, with their order in the code:--1. Codex
Theodosianus, sixteen books. 2. Novellae of Theodosius II., Valentinian
III., Marcian, Majorian, Severus. 3. The Institutes of Gaius, two books. 4.
Pauli Receptae Sententiae, five books. 5. Codex Gregorianus, thirteen
titles. 6. Codex Hermogenianus, two titles. 7. Papinianus, lib. i.
The code was thus composed of two kinds of materials,--imperial
constitutions, which, both in the code itself and in the commonitorium,
are called leges,
the writings of Roman jurists, which are called jus.
Both the Codex Gregorianus and Hermogenianus being
compilations, made without any legislative authority, are included under the
head of jus.
Except in the case of the
Institutes of Gaius, the Breviarium is made up of extracts from the
authorities enumerated above, and of an interpretation which explains the
text and gives an account of amendments in the law relating to it. As a
general rule the text of the passages selected was not altered. It is to be
noticed that the compilers of the Breviarium made no use of the writings of
some of the most eminent jurists. Thus there is no selection from the works
of Ulpian, and only one short extract is taken from Papinian. The Institutes
of Gaius are abridged or epitomised, and such alterations in the law as had
taken place, or were considered necessary for the time, were introduced into
the text. This part of the work, on account of its, distinct character, has
no interpretation attached to it. The epitome gives but a very imperfect
account of the parts of Gaius which it was intended to be a summary of. Its
value was much diminished by Niebuhr's discovery of the Institutes of Gaius
at Verona in 1816.
The Breviarium contains several sources of Roman law which are otherwise
almost entirely unknown, especially Paulus and the first five books of the
Numerous MSS. of the Breviarium are in existence. There are also MSS. of
epitomes of the Breviarium, which were made in the Middle Ages. A complete
edition of this code was published by Sichard in his Codex
Basileae, 1528. The entire code was not edited
again till 1849, when the well-known standard edition by Haenel was
published. (Puchta, Cursus,
Geschichte des Böm. Rechts im Mittelalter,
2.100.8; Rudorff, Geschichte des Röm. Rechts,
Danz, Geschichte des Röm. Rechts,
Jurisprudentiae Antejustinianae quae supersunt;