[German version] (literally 'chains'). In legal provisions as early as the Twelve Tablets (Tab. 3,3;
Tabulae Duodecim ) a creditor could place a debtor in
vincula for the purpose of legal enforcement. In this way a culpability was established. Initially its goal was to force the payment of a debt by the debtor himself or a third party, but was also a transitional stage in taking control, after the expiry of a deadline, of the person of the debtor in order to sell him e.g into slavery or to have him work off the amount he was convicted of in bonded labour. This former function of
vincula is alluded to by a statement of Ulpian (Dig. 48,19,8,7) about the
carcer (gaol), according to which the detention was used not for punishment but for safe-keeping.
vincula are often used synonymously. Private
vincula in this sense, however, were evidently severely limited by the
Lex Poetelia (probably 326 BC).
Vincula remained a private (law) measure as a punishment for slaves, however. They had to carry out their work in chains and were locked in an
ergastulum for the night. Also,
vincula publica (public
vincula) were possible - again in connexion with imprisonment in a
carcer - as a sanction for magi…