What is Roman law?
Roman law was the formal legal system of ancient Rome; Roman law accounts for the legal developments that occurred before the seventh century AD. During this period, the Roman-Byzantine state adopted Greek as the official language for the governing bodies of the land.
The development of Roman law took more than a thousand years of jurisprudence, for it evolved from the Twelve Tables to the Corpus Juris Civilis, which was ordered by Justinian 1.
The Justinian Code, a formal Roman law that arose from the aforementioned jurisprudence, served as the basis for legal procedure throughout continental Europe, Ethiopia and the majority of former colonies of European nations.
Development of Roman law:
Before the Twelve Tables were formulated, private law in Rome was comprised of civil law and was applied only to Roman citizens. The earliest formation of Roman law was bonded to religion with distinct attributes related to formalism, conservatism and symbolism. This foundation of a legal field was predominantly governed by the ruling king; the majority of citizens lacked fixed rights under this framework.
The first formal text of Roman law was developed through the Law of the Twelve Tables. The Law of Twelve Tables was created in the middle of the fifth century BC; TerentiliusArsa, a plebian tribune, proposed that Roman law should be affirmed in writing, to prevent magistrates from applying arbitrary laws.
After years of political struggle, the plebian class convinced the patricians to form a delegation and meet in Athens, to affirm the laws of Solon through written documentation. In 451 BC, ten Roman citizens were chosen to record the laws; during this process, the men were given supreme political power—a transferring of power that ultimately restricted the authority of the magistrates.
In 450 BC, the decemviriproduced laws on ten tablets; however, these laws were regarded as a meager attempt by the plebians. A second decemvirate then added two additional tablets in 449 BC; this new law, the Law of the Twelve Tablets, was subsequently approved by the people’s assembly.
Early Roman law:
Following the creation of the 12 tablets, Roman law began to formulate itself into the ruling framework over the land. Many laws of the 12 tablets ultimately created a modernized society that effectively managed the behaviors of citizens through the institution of an affirmed legal code.
Early Roman law consisted of numerous laws that ultimately formed a balanced society; for instance, laws were created to allow the marriage between plebeians and patricians—a fundamental law that effectively agglomerated society through the destruction of social barriers. Another important statute of early Roman law is regarded as the root for modern tort law; LexAquilla, the name of the statute, provided compensation to the owners of property that was injured by another citizens’ fault or negligent actions.
Arguably the most important contribution that early Roman law possessed was not the enactment of statutes, but the emergence of a class of jurists and the creation of a legal science.