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Sources of Byzantine Roman Law

It is well-known that Roman law is the basis of the legal tradition in Western continental Europe, and therefore also in the Netherlands. The sources of Roman law are often thought to be texts written in Latin and originating in Rome, or at least in Western Europe. That is not incorrect, but distorts reality considerably: our knowledge of Roman law is mainly based on sources that were compiled on the orders of Emperor Justinian in the 6th century in Constantinople, the capital of the so-called Byzantine Empire, in a largely Greek-speaking environment. The fact that extensive use is made of older texts which do partly come from the Latin-speaking West makes the realization of Justinian legislation an intriguing process, especially when one considers that the outcome of it, the Corpus Iuris Civilis, has been, for centuries in the West, a text whose influence on theory and practice can hardly be overstated. Long before the first steps were made in Bologna in the 11th century to understand the Corpus Iuris Civilis, it had already been, in Constantinople, subject to translation and commentary in Greek.

The programme focuses on this meeting of Latin and Greek, or West and East, in Roman law, and aims mainly to make the Greek-language, "Byzantine" sources accessible with a view to shed light on Roman law. It does this by producing text publications, monographs and articles. The participants are regularly involved in conferences, seminars and consultations and work internationally with established specialists in the field of philology and history. For more information, see 'The Groningen School of Byzantine Law'.

Last modified:02 January 2024 2.15 p.m.