It was used in the Serbian Empire and the succeeding Serbian Despotate. It is considered an early constitution , or close to it; an advanced set of laws which regulated all aspects of life. The assembly and clerics agreed on, and then ceremonially performed the raising of the autocephalous Serbian Archbishopric to the status of Serbian Patriarchate. The Code was promulgated at a state council on 21 May in Skopje , the capital of the Serbian Empire. The foreword is as follows: "We enact this Law by our Orthodox Synod, by His Holiness the Patriarch Kir Joanikije together with all the Archbishops and Clergy, small and great, and by me, the true-believing Emperor Stefan, and all the Lords, small and great, of this our Empire".
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It was used in the Serbian Empire and the succeeding Serbian Despotate. It is considered an early constitution , or close to it; an advanced set of laws which regulated all aspects of life.
The assembly and clerics agreed on, and then ceremonially performed the raising of the autocephalous Serbian Archbishopric to the status of Serbian Patriarchate.
The Code was promulgated at a state council on 21 May in Skopje , the capital of the Serbian Empire. The foreword is as follows: "We enact this Law by our Orthodox Synod, by His Holiness the Patriarch Kir Joanikije together with all the Archbishops and Clergy, small and great, and by me, the true-believing Emperor Stefan, and all the Lords, small and great, of this our Empire".
In the Charter , which accompanied the Code, it said: "It is my desire to enact certain virtues and truest of laws of the Orthodox faith to be adhered to and observed". It had a total of articles. Four of them 79, , , , regarding various subjects, refers to the authority of the "Law of the Sainted King" i.
The first part, the Syntagma, was an encyclopedic legal collection, provided in alphabetical order. It drew from religious and secular law; ecclesiastical articles made up a majority of the Byzantine original. Sava's Nomocanon. The code also defined the different types of landholding specifying the various rights and obligations that went with various categories of land , the rights of inheritance, the position of slaves, and the position of serfs.
It defined the labor dues serfs owed to their lords article 68 but also gave them the right to lay plaint against their master before the Emperor's court article l The code also noted the special privileges of foreign communities e. Many articles regarded the Church's status, thus supplementing the existing canon law texts. The Church received a very privileged position, on the whole, though it was given the duty of charity in no uncertain terms: "And in all churches the poor shall be fed The code also banned simony.
A clear-cut separation of Church and state was established in most matters, allowing Church courts to judge the Church's people and prohibiting the nobility from interfering with Church property and Church matters. He also had articles strongly penalizing "heretics" Bogomils. Only the Orthodox were called Christians. The code defined and allowed court procedure, jurisdictions, and punishment to depend upon the social class of the individual involved, supporting the existing class structure.
The Code also maintained law and order, not limiting itself against crime and insults, but also gave responsibility to specific communities; it stated the existing custom that each territory was responsible and liable for keeping order; e.
All these shall be punished in the manner written above [article ] if any thief or brigand be found in them. Thus the brigand was seen as a local figure, locally supported, preying on strangers. As a result, the allegedly supporting locality shared his guilt and deserved to share the punishment.
The strict articles were therefore intended to discourage a community from aiding brigands. The monarch had wide autocratic powers, but was surrounded and advised by a permanent council of magnates and prelates. The ruling nobility possessed hereditary allodial estates, which were worked by dependent sebri , the equivalent of Greek paroikoi ; peasants owing labour services, formally bound by decree. The legal transplanting is notable with the articles and , which regulated juridical independence, taken from Basilika book VII, 1, 16— Commoners shall have no council.
If anybody is found participating in council, let his ears be cut off, and let the leaders be singed. It was officially used in the successor state, Serbian Despotate ,  until its annexation by the Ottoman Empire in The code was used as a reference for Serbian communities under Turkish rule, which exercised considerable legal autonomy in civil cases.
According to Serbian authors T. Oraovac  and S. When the Turkish invaders conquered the medieval Serbian state many customary laws of social life amongst the Balkan peoples were brought back to use, this included the Albanians. It regulated all social spheres, thus it is considered the second oldest preserved constitution of Serbia. The original manuscript is not preserved, but around twenty copies of the transcript, ranging from the 14th to the 18th century, remain.
Today 24 manuscripts of Dusan's Code are known. The oldest extant is the Struga manuscript from ; which is not preserved in full; only articles remain. The Athos and Studenica manuscripts date from around The Hilandar , Bistrica and Prizren manuscripts, which have the most complete texts, date to the 15th century.
The Rakovac manuscript, dating to around , comprises only the last 12 articles and the Emperor's comments. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. However, they must be used with caution. For a series of laws is not the same type of source as a visitor's description of a society. A law code does not describe how things actually functioned but only how they ought to have functioned.
However, an article could also reflect an innovation, a reform the ruler was trying to bring about through legislation. In this case it would not have reflected existing customs and we must then ask, was the ruler successful in realizing his reform or did it remain a dead letter? Thus a law code may at times more accurately depict an ideal than reality. This section needs expansion.
You can help by adding to it. February This section is a candidate to be copied to Wikiquote using the Transwiki process. 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 or 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.
Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism. Archived from the original PDF on Solivagus, Kiel Retrieved 5 February Slovo srpsko. Angelini, Paolo Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis. International Journal of Slavic Studies. Beograd: 72— The Slavonic and East European Review.
The Serbs. Conflict and chaos in Eastern Europe. Palgrave Macmillan. Kazhdan, Alexander , ed. Nicol, Donald MacGillivray The Last Centuries of Byzantium, — Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Public Domain Malcolm, Noel Kosovo: A short history. Starine JAZU. SANU 51 : 7— Sedlar, Jean W. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, — Seattle: University of Washington Press. Dumbarton Oaks. Sindik, I. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Contribute Help Community portal Recent changes Upload file.
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