Roman Law | Short history

Roman law is an integral part of the European cultural heritage, it is the foundation of the legislation of many European states, managing through its elements of legal continuity to ensure the necessary cohesion to the European Union.

Opinions that support the outdated nature of Roman law are more and more isolated, especially with the entry into force of the new Romanian Civil Code. This code adopts an unified vision on legal relations under private law, a principle formulated by Roman legislators and from which they have not deviated. Roman law can be considered not only an internal and external value of human society being, but also a moral guide in the community.

The Roman legal system has its origins in the founding of Rome and was applied until the death of Emperor Justinian, from the 8th century BC. until the 6th century AD.

To understand the history of Roman law, we must remember that the Romans, like other peoples in antiquity, confused law with religion and morality. But, unlike the other peoples of the ancient world, the Romans overcame this confusion and realized a clear distinction between the norms of law, religious norms and the norms of morality. Since ancient times, the Romans have designated the norms of law by the word “jus“, and religious norms by the word “fas“.

Moreover, for the Romans, legal thinking left its mark on their entire ideology. Therefore, it was considered in ancient times that the Greeks were a people of philosophers and the Romans were a people of jurists.

The Romans were deeply pragmatic, and this feature also left its mark in the legal field. Therefore, the Roman jurisconsults did not start their lessons with theoretical introductions, but with the exposition of practical cases that were analyzed together with their disciples. During this analysis they found common elements between the cases, based on which they tried to formulate certain legal principles.

Roman law evolved at the same time as the social, economic and political life of the Roman state. The legal norms faithfully reflected the nature of economic relations, the proportion of different social categories in political life, as well as the organization of the state.

Roman legal practice created those concepts, categories, principles and institutions that proved to be ideal tools of legal thought. Therefore, they were received and applied with full success, both in the Middle Ages and in the Modern Age.

For Romanians, Roman law is of particular importance, because it formed and evolved under the influence of Roman private law. In Roman Dacia there was a intertwining to the point of merging between Geto-Dacian law and Roman law. Through this synthesis a new system of law appeared, an original one, in the physiognomy of which the Roman legal values acquired new functions and finalities. This system of law is called the Daco-Roman system.

In conclusion, the Romans were the “parents of law” in the semantic sense of the term. They believed in its sustainability, which emanated from Roman society itself, and they rightly stated that where society exists, there is also law – “ubi societas ibi jus ”- an axiom valid for over two thousand years.

Stancu Maria Ariana

Legal Intern R&R Partners Bucharest

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