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The Roman Empire was responsible for many innovations that are still in use today and have left their mark on many branches of science, business, and architecture with its large amphitheaters and aqueducts. Rome shaped the fields of philosophy, art, architecture and state politics, an essential part of the latter is the law. It is especially important, because under the rule of the Roman and Byzantine emperor Justinian I the basis of European law was laid, and it radiated into our society today.

It’s easy to prove since Roman law is still a compulsory subject in many universities. However, it is for a reason since this type of law had considerable influence on the development of Western civilization and many legal principles relate to Ancient Roman law to this day. Moreover, you can call Roman law as one of the few original achievements of the empire, because other areas such as architecture and philosophy, the Romans took over from the Greek.

The reason why Roman law prevailed over other legal forms is because of the development of natural jurisprudence. With it, you can summarize a problem in a few sentences and derive a rule from it, which then results in a simple transaction. For example, someone selling sick animals results in damage. You can derive three cases from this under Roman law. If the seller knew about the illness, then he is liable. If they did not know about it, then they are not accountable. If they had done everything possible to determine an illness before the sale and did not discover any, then they are also not liable.

The Emperor Created the First Code

Another legal principle under emperor Justinian I is still valid today, which is especially true in the third case about the seller mentioned before. There could be discussions about the question of liability here. However, if you can show that you have done everything to exclude damage, no liability arises. Everyone who buys something knows how warranty works. If the seller sells goods with a warranty, he must take them back within this period. That principle also applies if the goods are defective. This right also goes back to Roman law. It was originally only used for animals and slaves, but the emperor extended the principle to all treaties. The European states later adopted this into their legal systems.

The Emperor Created the First Code
The Emperor Created the First Code

The basis for this legal code was laid by the emperor Justinian I. In the first half of the 6th century, he collected all existing legal opinions of the past. The main inspiration, however, remained Roman law of that time. It was rediscovered 500 years later and formed the foundation for establishing the first law faculty in Europe. Legal scholars studying in Italy carried the principles into their countries and thus paved the way for numerous European legal systems. Since then, the law has developed in multiple areas. Together with Christianity and the philosophy of Aristotle, it forms the three pillars of European identity.