The Theodosian Code

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The Roman Empire was a marvelous civilization stretching from the far ends of the Mediterranean Sea to the nutrient rich soils of the Fertile Crescent and all the way north to what is now known as the United Kingdom. In fact, the empire was so expansive that there was a need for organized law; and so with each emperor there came new constitutions and decrees for the Roman people to follow. The Theodosian Code was just one of the many juristic materials that helped define Roman law and keep legal clarity until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 C.E.1This paper will define the contents of The Theodosian Code; show how the size and organization of the Roman Empire had an effect on the document; and examine how religion had influenced…show more content…
By combining laws from both the eastern and western part of the Roman Empire, The Theodosian Code was able to promote unity throughout the empire and subsequently strengthened ties between the east and the west.8 In retrospect the Roman Empire had the laws necessary for governing the large empire; they just were not organized in a way that was easy to follow. That is why Theodosius II had all of the laws organized and compiled into subjects to make governing the empire simpler.
In The Theodosian Code, it was stated that Christianity should be the main religion of the Roman Empire; this was established by Theodosius I, the emperor who declared Christianity as the state religion in 395 C.E. 9 Christianity as a state religion means that any person who lived within the Roman boundaries must declare themselves as Catholic Christians. 10 The code then stated that anyone who did not practice religion as a Catholic Christian would be considered demented and insane and be referred to as a heretic. They would be shunned from society and treated as though they were a spreading virus, being driven from cities, villages, and communities.11 Christianity was declared the religion of the empire because most of the laws within the Code were created by dedicated Christian Emperors. This Christian influence on the Code is omnipresent throughout the whole document and can be seen in a number of the Code’s 16 books.12
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