How Did the Justinian Code Affect the People?

The Justinian Code made law for those living in the Byzantine Empire simpler and more accessible. By removing contradictory and outdated laws, people were able to live with less ambiguity. Furthermore, the process of codifying law became a method of compilation that governments still use today.

Prior to Justinian's mandate to compile the law into a single body, the laws were disparate. Many were outdated. This created confusion within the empire regarding questions like government processes, contracts, punitive measures, civil arrangements and business agreements. The courts were unable to adequately enforce laws because they had hundreds of years' worth of legislation to work with and it was all disorganized.

For this reason, Justinian had his legal minister Tribonius direct the sorting and compilation of all Roman law existing at the time. The immense project resulted in the organization of a legal code consisting of the Codex (pre-existing laws), the Digest (a summary of the common law and guide for judges) and the Institutes (a conceptual study guide). Under the new standardized system, Byzantine law operated with an unprecedented level of uniformity. Judges were able to rule cases with greater precision and clarity.

The Justinian Code was a revolutionary legal innovation that has inspired numerous countries, including the United States.