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Medieval Sourcebook:
Codex Justinianus:
Children of Mixed Marriages, c. 530 [Xl.48.xxiv.]

The ruling of Justinian to the effect that children follow the condition of the mother was also applied to marriages between freewomen and unfree men and to those between unfree women and freemen.

Xl.48.xxiv. If those, who are accounted adscripticii by whatever judgment or whatever artifice or with their lords' consent or in their lords' ignorance, take to themselves freewomen as wives, we decree that both those, as well as their offspring, which is known to have been born to them, shall remain in liberty; but without doubt this must be observed, that if from a free husband and a wife of adscripticius status a child is born, he shall follow not the free condition of his father but incur the infamy of his mother's condition. But lest adscripticii should think such effort would go unpunished, which is a thing well to be believed of them, and lest the condition of a freewoman should be depressed by marriages planned by men of this kind, we decree, if any such thing should be perpetrated by an adscripticius, that his lord shall have full power, either of himself or through the president of the province, to correct such man with a moderate punishment and to separate him from the woman. And let him know that if he fail to do this, the negligence of such a man will redound to his own disadvantage.


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