Corpus Juris Civilis

From Academic Kids

The Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) is a fundamental work in jurisprudence issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Byzantine Emperor.

Justinian gave orders to collect legal materials of various kinds into several new codes. These codes became the basis of the revival of Roman law in the middle ages. This revived Roman law, in turn, became the foundation of law in all civil law jurisdictions. The provisions of the Corpus Iuris Civils also influenced the canon law of the church since it was said that ecclesia vivit lege romana - the church lives under Roman law.

The work was directed by Tribonian, an official in Justinian's court, and distributed in three parts: Digesta (or "Pandectae"), Institutiones, the Codex. A fourth part, the Novels (or "Novellae Constitutiones"), was added later.


1 Online translation
2 See also

Codex Justinianus

Codex Justinianus (a.k.a. Justinian Code) was the first part to be completed on April 7, 529.

It collects the constitutiones (statutes) of the Roman Emperors. The earliest constitutio preserved in the code was made from Emperor Hadrian, the latest constitutiones come from Justinianus himself. The compilers of the code could draw on earlier works like the official Codex Theodosianus and private collections like the Codex Gregorianus and the Codex Hermogenianus. Due to the legal reforms by the same Justinian, this work needed to be updated, so a second edition of the Codex (the so-called Codex repetitae praelectionis) was issued in 534, after the Digest.

The Code reflects the social order of the later empire. The position of the emperor as an absolute monarch with unlimited legislative, executive and judicial power is implicit throughout the code. Numerous provisions serve to secure the status of Christianity as the state religion of the empire. Among these provisions are several enactments to the prejudice of other religions like Judaism. Jews were disqualified from public office and disadvantaged in a number of ways.


The Digesta or Pandectae consist of a collection of legal writings mostly dating back to the second and third centuries B.C. Fragments were taken out of various legal treatises and opinions and inserted in the Digest. In their original context, the statements of the law contained in these fragments were just private opinions of legal scholars. The Digest, however, was given the force of law, like the other parts of the Corpus Iuris.


As the digesto neared completion, Tribonian and two professors, Theophilus and Dorotheus, made a sort of manual for jurists, called the instutitiones or the elements. As there were four elements, the manual also consists of four books. The instutitiones are largely based on the institutiones of Gaius as about two thirds of the institutiones text consist of literal quotes from Gaius. The institutiones were used as a manual for jurists in training since 21 November 533 and were given the authority of law on 30 December 533 along with the digest.

Online translation

See also

nl:Corpus Juris Civilis ja:ローマ法大全 pl:Kodeks Justyniana pt:Corpus Juris Civilis zh:民法大全


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