Ed Barton, LLM, CPA, CFA

Legal History of Western Europe – Three Millennia of Roman Influence

The United States legal system received significant influence from the English system, which was heavily influenced by Roman, German, and French systems.  No influence, however, was greater on the development of the European legal system in all its forms than that of the Roman Empire.  Starting with the Twelve Tables of c.450 BCE to the Justinian Codes and the development of the Corpus Juris Civilis in the 6th Century and its progeny, the Romans – along with the Jewish Ten Commandments – impacted European civil, church, and public law for over 2,000 years.

Understanding the impacts of the Roman Corpus Juris Civilis and the subsequent legal development from this common base provides a framework for analyzing modern legal theory, development, and legislation – both in the U.S. and internationally.

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