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The Corpus Iuris Civilis In The Early Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

Justinian’s project of codifying Roman law began in 528, shortly after his accession to the throne. It was only after the Middle Ages that the Justinianic law books-the Institutes, Code, Digest, and Novels-came to be known as the Corpus Iuris Civilis. This chapter addresses the question: what happened to the Justinianic Corpus in the four centuries following the Lombard invasions. In most of Europe, and even within Italy, the written tradition of Roman law was represented by the Codex Theodosianus or, later, by compilations prepared for the Roman subjects of the Germanic kings. The chapter discusses references specific to Justinian’s works: quotations from them, rules original to Justinian’s legislation, and manuscripts. It shows that only the Novels in the form of the Epitome Juliani enjoyed any appreciable readership in the early Middle Ages, while the other works make at best brief appearances and produced no intellectual tradition of lasting significance.

Keywords: Carolingian manuscripts; Codex Theodosianus; Corpus Iuris Civilis; early middle ages; Justinianic law; Lombard invasions; Roman law



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