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Medieval Sourcebook:
Codex Justinianus:
Protection of Freewomen Married to Servile Husbands, c. 530 [Vll.24.i.]

Unions between freewomen and adscripticii, previously discouraged by the Romans by depressing the status of the freewoman, were no longer to result in loss of freedom after Justinian's new law.

Vll.24.i. Since in our times, in which we take great pains for the liberty of our subjects, we consider it ungodly that certain women are cheated of their liberty and, because slavery was introduced against natural liberty by the ferocity of the enemy, and this has been brought about by the depravity of the worst of men, we desire to suspend from henceforth the Claudian senatusconsultus and all its observations about the declarations and sentences of judges, lest she who is by right free, but once seduced or taken in flagrante delictu or who was drawn down in any other way whatsoever from the free state of her ancestors to a condition of slavery, and lest she should be the worst disgrace on the renown of her relations---as one who, perhaps, had relations graced with dignities---and should fall under the rule of another and, perhaps, should fear that her lord be inferior to her relatives: therefore, in a free people it ought to be observed that the religion of my times in no way suffers that a woman once possessed of liberty should be reduced to servitude by such infamy. But lest slaves or adscripticii should think such effort would go unpunished, which is a thing greatly to be feared in the case of adscripticii, and lest the condition of free women should be depressed by marriages contrived by men of this kind, we decree that if any such thing be perpetrated, either by a slave or by an adscripticius, his master is to have power, either through the president of the province or of his own accord, to correct with suitable punishment such a slave or bondsman, and to separate him from such a woman. But if he should fail to do this, let him know that negligence of this kind will bring recriminations.


From: P. Krueger, ed., Codex Justinianus, (Berlin, 1877), p. 659; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 266-267.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998
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