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Justinian Code

Consolidation of Roman law promulgated by Emperor Justinian* in 529 (Codex Constitutionum). Justinian found the laws of the empire in great disarray and appointed a commission of ten legal experts, including the great jurist Trebonianus, to enlarge and rearrange the existing laws, eliminating contradicting and useless constitutions. Encouraged by the success of this endeavor, Justinian turned to the simplification of more difficult works-the writings of the jurists. After issuing the “Fifty Decisions” which settled certain important legal questions on which there had been disagreement among the older jurists, Justinian appointed a new commission under Trebonianus whose task it was to condense the writings of the jurists. This Digest was promulgated in 533, shortly after Trebonianus completed and published a revised edition of the Institutes of Gaius, which was to be used as a manual for law students. Justinian then appointed another commission headed by Trebonianus to revise the Codex and incorporate the new constitutions of the “Fifty Decisions” into it. This revised edition of twelve books was promulgated in 534 (Codex repetitae praelectionis) and is what has survived to the present. From 534 to the end of this reign Justinian continued to enact new ordinances (Novellae constitutiones post codicem). The Codex, Digest, Institutes, and Novels constituted the Corpus Juris Civilis which became the basic collection of Roman law. The Code was influential in the development of canon law in the West and today is valuable for its historical and legal interest.