Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Leo III's Ecloga Revises legal penaties in the late Roman Empire

LATER ROMAN EMPIRE: "In a synod held at Constantinople in the reign of Justinian II. numerous rules were enacted, differing from the existing laws and based on ecclesiastical doctrine and Mosaic principles, and these were sanctioned as laws of the realm by the emperor. Thus Church influence and the decline of Roman tradition, in a state which had become predominantly Greek, determined the character of the ensuing legislative epoch under the auspices of Leo III., whose law book (A.D. 740), written in Greek, marks a new era and reflects the changed ideas of the community. Entitled a Brief Selection of Laws and generally known as the Ecloga, it may be described as a Christian law book. In regard to the patria potestas increased facilities are given for emancipation from paternal control when the son comes to years of discretion, and the paternal is to a certain extent replaced by a pareiital control over minors. The, law of guardianship is considerably modified. The laws of marriage are transformed under the influence of the Christian conception of matrimony; the institution of concubinatus is abolished. Impediments to marriage on account of consanguinity and of spiritual relationship are multiplied. While Justinian regarded marriage as a contract, and therefore, like any other contract, dissoluble at the pleasure of the parties, Leo III. accepted the Church view that it was an indissoluble bond. Ecclesiastical influence is written large in the criminal law, of which a prominent feature is the substitution of mutilation of various kinds for the capital penalty. Death is retained for some crimes, such as murder and high treason; other offences were punished by amputation (of hand, nose, &c.). This system (justified by the passage in the New Testament, If thine eye offend thee, &c.), though to modern notions barbaric, seemed a step in the direction of leniency; and it may be observed that the tendency to avoid capital punishment increased, and we are told that in the reign of John Comnenus it was never inflicted. (The same spirit, it may be noted, is apparent in the usual, though by no means invariable, practice of Byzantine emperors to render dethroned rivals or members of a deposed dynasty innocuous by depriving them of eyesight or forcing them to take monastic orders, instead of putting them to death.) The Church, which had its own system of penalties, exercised a great influence on the actual operation of criminal law, especially through the privilege of asylum (recognized by justinian, but with many reserves and restrictions), which was granted to Christian churches and is admitted without exceptions in the Ecloga."

I wonder what reservations and restrictions Justinian had legislated?
Post a Comment