The Byzantine Imperial Acts to Venice, Pisa and Genoa, 10th - 12th Centuries
By Dafni Penna
For some 1,000 years, the Southeastern part of Europe was under the sway of the Eastern Roman Empire, later also known as Byzantium. A watershed in the history of Byzantium was the legislation of the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Under his reign, a codification of Roman law was achieved, which was to remain not only the bedrock of Byzantine law, but which also, after its rediscovery in Italy in the 11th century, was to become the foundation of the continental European legal tradition. During the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries, the Byzantine emperors issued privilege acts to the Italian city-republics of Venice, Pisa, and Genoa. This doctoral thesis examines these Byzantine imperial acts from a legal perspective. The book examines such questions as: What is the legal information that these acts provide? What law do they presuppose and apply? Did both parties have law in common and if so, of what does it consist? Is Roman law assumed to be binding in these acts as part of that common law, and if so, in which cases and what are the examples given? Investigating the possible genesis of a common legal understanding in Europe before the 11th century may contribute to an explanation of why Justinian's law became prominent in the West. In the last chapter, common legal issues in these acts - such as grants of immovable property, issues dealing with justice, and shipwreck and salvage provisions - have been subjected to a comparative analysis and in their turn compared with other Byzantine or Western sources. The study of legal acts of the medieval period at a European level may help in answering the question of whether, long before the formation of today's Europe, it was already bound by common legal forms. This study brings together a small piece of the puzzle of how a common European legal heritage was formed. Dissertation.
Publication Date: 9/13/2012
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