Theodosian Code

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Theodosian Code

The legal code of the Roman Empire promulgated in a.d. 438 by the emperor Theodosius II of the East and accepted by the emperor Valentinian III of the West.

The Theodosian Code was designed to eliminate superfluous material and to organize the complex body of imperial constitutions that had been in effect since the time of the emperor Constantine I (306–337). It was derived primarily from two private collections: the Gregorian Code, or Codex Gregorianus, a collection of constitutions from the emperor Hadrian (117–138) down to Constantine compiled by the Roman jurist Gregorius in the fifth century; and the Hermogenian Code, or Codex Hermogenianus, a collection of the constitutions of the emperors Diocletian (284–305) and Maximian (285–305) prepared by the fifth-century jurist Hermogenes to supplement the Gregorian Code. The Theodosian Code was one of the sources of the Civil Law, the system of Roman Jurisprudence compiled and codified in the Corpus Juris Civilis in a.d. 528–534 under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian. Until the twelfth century, when the Corpus Juris Civilis became known in the West, the Theodosian Code was the only authentic body of civil law in widespread use in Western Europe.

Further readings

Matthews, John. 2000. Laying Down the Law: A Study of the Theodosian Code. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press.

The Theodosian Code and Novels, and the Sirmondian Constitutions. 2001. Trans. by Clyde Pharr. Union, N.J.: Law-book Exchange.


Roman Law.