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date: 03 December 2020

Theodosian Codelocked

  • Tony Honoré

Extract

Theodosian Code (Codex Theodosianus), a collection of some 2,500 imperial laws collected and published between 429 ce and 438 on the authority of *Theodosius (3) II. By about 400 it had become clear that a new collection was needed to supplement the Codex Gregorianus and Hermogenianus of a century earlier (see codex). The law in the western and eastern parts of the empire had to be harmonized, its bulk reduced, forgeries eliminated, and a decision reached on which imperial laws were general, and so entitled to prevail over corrupt or improvident concessions to petitioners (rescripta, adnotationes). Given the disorder of the western empire, the eastern government took the initiative. In March 429 Theodosius II in Constantinople set up a commission, consisting of eight officials or ex-officials and a practising advocate, to collect all the general laws they could find from Constantine onwards, arrange them in chronological order under subject-headings, and shorten them so that only the operative part remained (CTh. 1. 1. 5). They were not to harmonize conflicting laws, but it was envisaged that ultimately the new Codex, together with the Gregorianus, the Hermogenianus and the writings of lawyers of authority would be fused in a harmonious whole.

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