What is the significance of Justinian's Code?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are at least two ways to answer this question.

First, we can say that the Code of Justinian was significant for the Byzantine Empire.  The creation of the Code ensured that the Byzantine Empire would have a coherent set of laws that could be easily understood.  The Code came into use around the year 530 and continued to be used as the basis of Byzantine law until the fall of the empire in 1453.  Thus, the Code was significant simply because it was the basis of law for an empire for more than 900 years.

Second, we can say that the Code is significant to Western Europe as well.  The Code never applied to this region because Western Europe was not part of the Byzantine Empire.  Even so, the Code had a major effect in the West.  It was written in Latin so it was easy for scholars in the West to use it.  In the 11th century, scholars in Italy started to study the code.  Before long, the Code was used to create a system of canon law.  It was then used as the basis for secular legal codes.  It eventually became the foundation of legal codes across all of Europe.  

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