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Codex Justinianus:
Violation of the Thracian Land Law, c. 530 [XI.52.i.]

Vigorous measures were taken by the Eastern Empire to bring its lands back to cultivation. By causing the forfeit of uncultivated land, by increasing the taxes upon such land, by abolition of the capitation tax, and by imposing fines on those who took the coloni of another, they hoped to remedy the agrarian evils of the day. The fine of two pounds of gold on those who removed coloni was sufficiently heavy to prevent wholesale removals of cultivators.

XI.52.i. Throughout the whole diocese of Thrace the land tax only is binding, enrollment for the capitation tax having been abolished forever. And lest by chance it seem to coloni that the bonds of tributary status have been loosed, and that the faculty of wandering and departing to wheresoever they will has been permitted them, they indeed are held by the original law; and though by condition they seem to be free, nevertheless they are considered slaves of that same estate where they were born nor have they the faculty of going where they will nor of changing from place to place, but their owners have power over them, their patrons have care of them, and their lords have potestas over them. But if any one should believe he must take and retain the colonus of another he is compelled to pay two pounds of gold to him whose fields he has made empty by the transfer of a cultivator, so that he should restore the same with all his goods and offspring.


P. Krueger, ed., Codex Justinianus, (Berlin, 1877), p. 990; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 391-392.

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

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. 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