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Plebiscitum

(593 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (pl. plebiscita). The resolutions of the assembly of the Roman plebs ( concilium ; plebs ). From the lex Hortensia (287 BC) onwards, these resolutions were equated with leges (laws, lex ) ( legibus exaequata sunt, Gai. Inst. 1,3) and were also so called. It can now be regarded as disproved that there existed any earlier general binding character to the plebiscitum (summary in [1. 61f.]). Over the following three cents., the plebiscitum formed the core of the entire Roman legislative process. This may partly have been because the convocation of a concilium plebis by the pe…

Libellus

(790 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A. Libellus in civil actions Libellus (‘small document’) was, from around the mid 5th cent. AD, the technical term for the complaint in a Roman civil action, which by this time was less ponderously arranged than in the formerly customary procedures of the litis denuntiatio . The libellus contained the facts upon which the complaint was based, without detailed explanatory statements, and a motion to summon the respondent ( postulatio ). The judge firstly addressed the legitimacy of the summons request (‘conclusiveness test’), reaching a sententia

Contumacia

(299 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Derived from contemnere (to despise; this meaning of the word survives today in the contempt of court of British law). In Roman law the contumacia meant above all the defendant's failure to obey a legal summons in the exercise of extraordinaria  cognitio . No similar use of the word contumacia is encountered before the introduction of this procedure in the Principate and of the contumacia, probably under Claudius. Admittedly a comparable function existed in earlier civil proceedings after the XII Tables (5th cent. BC) in a judge's ruling for o…

Partus suppositus

(300 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The PS, the substituted child, played a considerable part in Roman legislation and legal science. This could be easily explained in view of the consequences of legitimate birth in terms of status, civil law and succession. Until the early Imperial period (1st cent. AD) it seems that the problem of dubious birth was mostly resolved within the family: The father, as part of his paternal power ( patria potestas ), had the right to expose newborn children (Exposure of children). Whether an explicit acceptance by the father of the child was required by picking up the child ( toller…

Crimen

(862 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A. Public criminal prosecution The legal technical category in classical Roman jurisprudence of the Principate applied to public criminal procedures ( iudicium publicum) where crimes were prosecuted based upon accusation (  accusatio ). As with civil legal forms in Roman Law, it is not a characteristic routine legal transaction but should rather be understood as a means of attack and defence in a trial (  actio ,   exceptio ). The meaning of the term crimen predominantly lies in the procedural field. Therefore, crimen appears most frequently in the sources in connection with suits or empowerments to sue, sometimes virtually in place of the accusatio. The crime that is prosecuted in the iudicium publicum is called the crimen publicum, e.g. in a rescript of emperor …

Communio

(722 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
Joint ownership of an object in Roman law. [German version] A. Past history The most important circumstances that led to the formation of a communio entailed a community of purchasers ( societas quaestus) or a community of heirs. Regarding both, the communio did not gain acceptance until late, towards the end of the Republic. Before that, multiple heirs were joined in a community of ercto non cito (after erctum ciere: to make a division), as we know from the papyrus find of 1933, containing Gaius, Institutiones 3, 154a, b. It originally meant a community of property that exclude…

Divortium

(442 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (from divertere, to turn away) is divorce in Roman law. Its basis is clearly set out in a r…

Synallagma

(288 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (συνάλλαγμα/ synállagma, literally: 'mutual exchange'). Greek expression for a (business) transaction, sometimes for any type of legal obligation regardless of its creation, be it an offence or a contract. It did not have a precise juridicial meaning. Nevertheless, the Roman jurists M. Antistius [II 3] Labeo (about the time of the birth of Christ) and Titius Aristo (late 1st cent. AD) adopted the Greek word synallagma in Latin to refer to agreements that resulted in obligations for both parties. These might be so-called innominate contracts th…

Effractor

(68 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] In Roman law the thief who obtains his loot through break and entry. According to Dig. 47,18 he commits a criminal act that is prosecuted as a   crimen ( publicum). In the Republic it was still a civil offence. An escapee was called an effractor ( carceris) and was …

Consensus

(331 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] is the unanimous will of the parties of a contract (  contractus ). In Roman law it was the basis of the binding character of buying (  emptio venditio ), contracts of lease, work and employment (  locatio conductio ), of commission (  mandatum ) and association (  societas ). The ‘invention of’ consensus as the central element of a system of civil law is one of the ‘grandest juridical achievements, and one of the most influential for further development’ [1. 180]. The liability resulting from

Iuridicus

(352 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The term iuridicus (‘person employed in law’) appears in sources of the Roman Imperial period with very different meanings. 1. From Hadrian, perhaps even Vespasian, iuridici provinciae, more frequently called legati iuridici, appear in imperial provinces. They are representatives of the provincial govern…

Accusatio

(201 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] according to the Digest title 48,2 is the charge in Roman criminal proceedings. The bearer of the accusatio is in that case a private person. This person first laid a charge (  delatio nominis ). In the later imperial period in an extra ordinem judicial criminal prosecution it was often the case that this was the sum total of the private share in the course of procedure. In the republican procedure (  quaestio ), on the other hand, the delator was always and, even later still regularly, a party after admission of the accusatio by the court magistrate ( receptio nominis) -- simil…

Nuptiae

(178 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (from nubere, ‘to cloak oneself, to put on a veil’) refers to marriage in Roman society (Marriage III.B.). A title of the Digesta (23,2: De ritu nuptiarum) with 68 fragments is devoted to wedding customs (III.). This indicates that Roman jurists gave close attention to the requirements for a legal marriage ( iustum matrimonium ). Since fulfilling the matrimonial requirements at the time of the nuptiae was of critical importance for legal recognition of the marriage, the term nuptiae eventually came to be used as a synonym for matrimonium in referring to marriage in g…

International law

(1,438 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Overview International law (IL) was established as a field in its own right during the early modern period (especially by Hugo Grotius, 1583-1645). The term   ius (A.2.) gentium, which originated in Roman law, established itself as its name. However, in antiquity this term did not mean IL but those concepts of  law in general that were assumed to be common to all peoples. This also included principles that belong to IL in its narrow sense such as the inviolability of diplomatic representatives (Dig. 50,7,18). Antiquity did not have a term for IL per se. However, ancient …

Divisor

(157 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (‘One who apportions endowments’). From the 2nd cent. BC or earlier war spoils of the Roman state were occasionally distributed among the people of Rome. In the absence of an official ‘Body of Apportionment’ it fell to private citizens, divisores, to assume that function. By the end of the Republic this had led to a system of canvassing that has been described in detail in Cicero Planc. 48ff. Divisores promised in single   tribus a ‘reward’ to a sufficient number of tribus members in the event of a particular candidate being elected. If the …

War, law of

(436 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The origin of the ancient law of war, like that of international law, cannot be attributed to a particular event or treaty. Already before the Greek and Roman periods there were concepts and customs that may retrospectively be understood as part of a law of war. Thus, in ancient Mesopotamia and Homeric Greece, taking spoils was considered legitimate, and a particularly important part of the spoils was the enslavement of prisoners of war and subjugated peoples ( War booty). The OT …

Modus

(303 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] has two meanings in Roman law: one describing a ‘measure’ primarily of land, the other - according to the matter in hand - the same as the modern concept of an instruction (on a gift or testamentary benefit). M. agri (the land measure) was the subject of a well-known action from Paul. sent. 2,17,4  ( actio de modo agri): if the price of a piece of land was calculated according to its area, the purchaser could demand from the seller double the proportional price as a private penalty, if it transpired that the area was smaller than stated.…

Signum

(297 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
(Literally 'sign', pl. signa). [German version] [1] (Name) see Supernomen (Name) see Supernomen Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) [German version] [2] (Military matters) see Ensigns; Signals (Military matters) see Ensigns; Signals Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) [German version] [3] Brand mark for slaves The brand mark by which the Romans identified slaves (Slavery). It wa…

Lawcourt

(459 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The institution of the law court (LC) has existed from the beginning of state control in antiquity. It is no longer possible to deduce whether and where a phase of arbitration preceded it. In the documents of the Ancient Orient LCs are attested on many occasions [1; 2; 3]. The respective city prince or king was probably also the master of the court although in Mesopotamia there was also local jurisdiction (i.e. within certain groups) [2]. The scribes were suited for work as judg…

Tabulae nuptiales

(226 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (lit. 'marriage tablets'). Marriage contracts in Roman law, set out in documents from the Imperial period onwards (cf. Tac. Ann. 6,45,5 on Messalina [2] and Silius in AD 48). In Roman law, marriage itself was not a (formal) contract, it was sexual communion with the intention of living a married life ( affectio maritalis). The subject of the TN, by contrast, were question of property connected with marriage, primarily the pledging of a dowry ( Dos ) to the husband for the wife's maintenance, in Late Antiquity probably also the husband's…
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