Dušan's Code


Dušan's Code
Dušan's Code
Prizren Manuscript of the Dušan's Code, XV century
Prizren Manuscript of the Dušan's Code, XV century
Created 1349
Authors Tsar Dušan
Purpose Legal code

Dušan's Code (Serbian: Душанов законик, Dušanov zakonik, known historically as Закон благовјернаго цара Стефана)[1] was enacted by Tsar Dušan in two state congresses: in May 21, 1349 in Skopje and amended in 1354 in Serres. It regulated all social spheres, so it can be considered a medieval Serbian constitution. The Code included 201 articles. The original manuscript is not preserved, but around twenty copies of the transcript, from the 14th to 18th century, remain. The Code was based on Roman-Byzantine law. The legal transplanting is notable with the articles 171 and 172 of Dušan's Code, which regulated juridical independence. They were taken from the Byzantine code Basilika (book VII, 1, 16-17). The Code had its roots in the first Serbian constitutionSt. Sava's Nomocanon (Serbian: Zakonopravilo)[2][3][4] from 1219, enacted by Saint Sava. This legal act was well developed. St. Sava's Nomocanon was the compilation of Civil law, based on Roman Law[5][6] and Canon law, based on Ecumenical Councils. Its basic purpose was to organize the functions of the young Serbian kingdom and the Serbian church. The Serbian Empire flourished, becoming one of the most developed countries and cultures in Europe.

Contents

Quotes

Stefan Dušan

On the Law

Further commandeth our Imperial Majesty:
Should our Imperial Majesty write a letter
Out of wrath, or out of love
Or out of mercy for any one,
And should such a letter contravene the Code
And be at variance with the law and justice
As set down in the Code,
The judges
Shall not comply therewith
But shall judge
And act withal as justice commandenth.

On Poor Women

Any poor woman unable to litigate
Or defend herself shall choose an attorney
Who shall speak on her behalf.
The poorest hemp-spinstress shall be as free as a priest shall.

On Prisoners

Whoso escapeth from prison to the Imperial Court, be he a serf of the Crown, or of the Church, or of a nobleman, shall by the act itself be set free; should he be bearing any gifts for the man to whom he hath escaped, he shall return them to the man from whom he hath escaped.
Whoso escapeth from the prison at our Imperial Court to the patriarchal court shall be set free; also shall be set free any man who escapeth from the patriarchal prison to the Imperial Court.
Also, should any one give shelter to a man from a foreign land, and that man be a fugitive from his master of from justice holding our imperial letter of clemency, said letter shall not be contested; should he hold no such letter, he shall be returned wherefrom he hath escaped.

See also

References

  • Excerpts On the Law, On Poor Women and On Prisoners are taken from the Prizren Manuscript (1346-1349) of Dušan's Code.
  • Cited from Predrag R. Dragić Kijuk: Anthology of Medieval and Renaissance Serbian Poetry and Culture, Belgrade, 1987, with a permission of the author.

Further reading

  • Alexander Soloviev
    • Selected Monuments of Serbian Law from the 12th to 15th centuries (1926)
    • Legislation of Stefan Dušan, Emperor of Serbs and Greeks (1928)
    • Dušan's Code in 1349 and 1354 (1929),
  • Stojan Novaković, Zakonik Stefana Dušana cara srpskog 1349. i 1354. (Legal Code of Stefan Dušan, Serbian Emperor, 1349 and 1354), Belgrade, 1898
  • Т.Флоринский (T Florinsky), Памятники законодатльной дъятельности Душана Царя Сербовъ и Грековъ (Legislature Monuments of Tzar Dusan, Emperor of Serbs and Greeks), Kiev, 1888
  • Batrićević, Ana, "Legal Transplants and the Code of Serbian Tsar Stephan Dushan: A Comparative Study" (December 22, 2006). Available at SSRN: [1]

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