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Medieval Sourcebook:
Codex Justinianus:
Children of the Unfree, c. 530 [Xl.48.xxi.]

In marriages between those of unfree status, when within that category the parents were of different social classes, the children followed the condition of the mother. For all practical purposes slaves and adscripticii were equal before the law.

Xl.48.xxi. Lest there be any further doubt, if any one is descended from a bondwoman and a slave or adscripticius and a female slave, who is (and this might be worse fortune) either of bond or of servile rank, we decree that those things which were provided in former laws for such offspring, born of bondwoman and freeman, shall be left in their present state, and the offspring procreated from such connection shall be of bond status. But if any one were born either of a slave and a bondwoman or of a female slave and a bondman, he should follow the condition of his mother and be of such condition as she was, either slave or bondwoman; which rule has hitherto been observed only in cases of marriage between free and servile. For what difference is evident between slaves and adscripticii when both are placed in the potestas of a lord and he is able to manumit a slave with his goods and to expel from his dominion an adscripticius with land?


From: P. Krueger, ed., Codex Justinianus, (Berlin, 1877), p. 988; 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. 268-269.

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