Corpus Iuris Civilis
Mosaic of Justinian in San Vitale, Ravenna
the beginning of his reign the Roman emperor
Justinian (527-565 A.D.) established
a ten-man commission chaired by John the Cappadocian to produce a
new code of Roman law. The commission
first produced a new compilation of the statutes and
constitutions of the emperors, the Codex Justinianus (Codex vetus)
that Justinian promulgated on 7 April, 529.
Then Justinian ordered the codification of the legal opinions of the Roman jurists from ca. first century B.C. to the third century A.D. . On 15 December 530 he ordered a commission to work at it: sixteen lawyers from the legal fraternities of Constantinople and Beirut, men headed by Tribonian, who had already been a member of the commission that produced the Codex Justinianus. The result of their labor was published on 16 December, 533. It was called the Digestum (Digest), or to give it its Greek name, the Pandects. The Digest contained the collective jurisprudence of almost a millenium of Roman legal thought. It would become the most important legal book ever produced and would influence the future shape of European and world jurisprudence. At the same time, a committee also headed by Tribonian was working on a textbook for law students, the Institutes. It was published on 16 November. One byproduct of all this labor was to make the Codex vetus obsolete, and hence a new edition was published on 16 November, 534 and the first edition has failed to survive. This body of law and jurisprudence has been known since the sixteenth century as the Corpus Iuris Civilis. Justinian intended it to be a unified body of law. In December 533 the commission also published the Institutes, which was a textbook to be used for first year students.
commentaries on the Digest and probably the rule applied to the whole