oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - A shared law

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



The title of this article is derived from a statement by Von Hagen to the effect that Roman roads gave to the world "a shared law". One may well ask what this shared law is and how it came about. Per definition a "shared law" would be a legal system adhered to jointly by various peoples and countries.

In this article I will attempt to explain how it came about that the legal system of Rome came to be shared with her conquered peoples. In doing so I will discuss various means of communication in the Roman world : first, and most importantly, I will pay attention to the magnificent network of Roman roads; secondly, I will discuss the state post (); thirdly I will concentrate on imperial legislation; and fourthly codification will be considered. By means of the roads and the postal system, Rome was able to communicate and circulate Roman law to the whole of the Roman Empire. This was done in various ways: for example, emperors, governors, administrators, jurists, teachers and imperial messengers all travelled along these roads and by performing their duties, Roman law was carried to the furthest ends of the Empire.

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