What Was The Justinian Code?
The Justinian Code is the name used for the Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law), a compilation of Roman law published during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (A.D. 483–565). Roman law was the legal system used by the Romans from the eighth century B.C. until the fall of the Roman Empire around A.D. 476 in western Europe and in eastern Europe in 1453. Justinian I, also called Justinian the Great, ordered Roman judges and legal scholars to collect and compile the laws of the Roman Empire. Called the Justinian Code, these laws had been published in the Corpus Juris Civilis when Justinian died in 565. The document consists of four parts: the Codex, a collection of laws; the Digests, a collection of writings by Roman legal scholars; the Institutes, a textbook for law students; and the Novels, a collection of laws created after the publication of the Codex. During the Middle Ages (c. 450–c. 1500), the Justinian Code was used only by the Catholic Church, which made it part of church laws and handed it down through the centuries. Though the Roman Empire ceased to exist, the Justinian Code continues to influence laws in most European countries and some non-English-speaking countries; it also is the basis of state law in Louisiana in the United States.
Further Information: Halsall, Paul, ed. "Medieval Legal History." Internet Medieval Sourcebook [Online] Available http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook-law.html, October 30, 2000; Magnusson, Magnus. Cambridge Biographical Dictionary. New York: University of Cambridge, 1990, pp. 802–803; Nardo, Don. The Roman Empire. San Diego: Lucent, 1994.