A History of Serbian Mediaeval Law


This book explores the complete history of Serbian law in the Middle Ages, covering the 12th to the 15th centuries, which until now has been largely unstudied in international scholarship.
Firmly rooted in primary source research and showing strong awareness of the contemporary historical context, this comprehensive study examines different types of law – such as criminal law, constitutional law, and civil law – and the various legal systems and procedures in place during this time, offering a valuable synthesis while also presenting new views and novel interpretations of Serbian legal history.

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Srđan Šarkić, Ph.D. (1980) University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Law, was Professor of Legal History at that university until his retirement in 2016. He has published monographs and many articles on Byzantine and Serbian mediaeval law.

Part 1 Background and Sources

1 Historical Background

2 Sources
 1 Legal Sources
 2 Other Sources

3 The Concept of Law
 1 Roman and Byzantine Concept
 2 Serbian Concept

Part 2 The Law of Persons

Classification of Persons

4 Noblemen (Vlastela, Властели)
 1 Name
 2 Social Status
 3 Division

5 Commoners (Sebri, Себри)
 1 Name and Division
 2 Villagers (meropsi, меропси)
 3 Dependent Shepherds—Vlachs (Власи, Βλάχοι)
 4 Slaves
 5 Dependent Craftsmen and So-called Sokalnici (сокалници)
 6 Parish Priests (seoski popovi, попови)

6 Townsmen (Građani, Грагꙗни, Граждани)
 1 Name and Division
 2 Towns in the Interior of Serbia
 3 Maritime Towns
 4 Towns Conquered from Byzantium

7 Foreigners (Stranci, Странци)
 1 Ragusan Merchants
 2 German Miners (sasi, саси)
 3 Other Foreigners

Part 3 Constitutional Law

8 Constitutional Ideology
 1 Dušan’s Law Code—Constitution or Not?
 2 The Idea of Rome and Hierarchical World Order
 3 Duties of the Emperor
 4 Concordance or “Symphonia” between the Church and State
 5 Concept of the State

9 Organization of Power
 1 Monarch
 2 Court Dignitaries
 3 Councils (državni sabori, съборь, зборь)
 4 Local Administration

10 Serbian Orthodox Church
 1 Foundation
 2 Organization
 3 Legal Acts
 4 Proclamation for a Patriarchate
 5 Conflict and Reconciliation with Constantinople
 6 Legal Position

Part 4 Civil Law

11 Natural Persons (Individuals) and Legal Persons (Entities)
 1 Natural Persons (Individuals)
 2 Legal Persons (Entities)

12 The Law of Property
 1 The Concept of a “Thing”
 2 Division of Things
 3 Ownership
 4 Acquisition of Ownership
 5 Rights over the Property of Another (Iura in re aliena)

13 The Law of Obligations
 1 The Concept of Obligation
 2 Contracts

14 The Law of Wills and Succession
 1 Testate and Intestate Succession
 2 Intestate Succession (ἡ κληρονομία ἐξ ἀδιαθέτου)
 3 Testate Succession

15 Family Law
 1 Marriage (γάμος, nuptiae, matrimonium, бракь)
 2 Matrimonial Property
 3 Dissolution of Marriage
 4 Extended Family (So-called Zadruga, Задруга)

Part 5 Criminal Law

16 Crime
 1 Byzantine Concept of Crime
 2 Serbian Concept of Crime and the Oldest Expressions
 3 Crime as Madness or Insanity

17 Culprit
 1 Individual and Collective Criminal Liability
 2 The Concept of Guilt
 3 Mens Rea
 4 Mental Capacity or Competence
 5 Accomplices

18 Punishment
 1 Capital Punishment
 2 Corporal Punishments
 3 Pecuniary Punishments or Fines
 4 Confiscation and Exile
 5 Imprisonment
 6 Spiritual Sentences
 7 Loss of Honour and Disqualification from Holding an Office
 8 The Right of Asylum (Greek ἄσυλον, ἀσυλία, Latin asylum or refugium = shelter, refuge)
 9 Acts of Grace

19 Crimes against the State and Sovereign
 1 Treason
 2 Disobedience to the Sovereign’s Orders
 3 Forgery of Charters
 4 Other Crimes against the State and Sovereign

20 Crimes against the Judicial System
 1 So-called “Samosud”
 2 Contumacy
 3 Refusal of Judge’s Envoy or Clerk (So-called ѡтбои)

21 Crimes against Public Peace and Order
 1 Violation of Immunity Rights (посилиѥ, насилиѥ, ꙃабава)
 2 Noblemen’s Violent Measures against Commoners
 3 Villagers’ Reprisal
 4 Commoner’s Council
 5 A Fugitive Serf

22 Crimes against the Church and Religion
 1 Renunciation of Orthodoxy
 2 Heresy
 3 Conversion to Catholicism and Catholic Propaganda
 4 Pagan Relicts

23 Crimes against the Person
 1 Homicide (φόνος, оубїиство)
 2 Mayhem
 3 Battery
 4 Rape (βιασμός, raptus, нꙋжда)
 5 Injury (ἀδικία)

24 Crimes against Morality
 1 Abduction (ἄρπαξ, хыщьниЕБе)
 2 Fornication (πορνεία, блоудь)
 3 Adultery (μοιχεία, прѣлюбодѣиство)
 4 Bigamy
 5 Abominable and Detestable Crimes against Nature
 6 Incest

25 Crimes against Property
 1 Larceny (κλέμμα, κλοπή, furtum, татьба, крагꙗ)
 2 Sacrilege (sacrilegium, ἰεροσυλία, свештеннотатство)
 3 Robbery (ἀρπαγή, latrocinium, гоуса)
 4 Rapine (rapina)
 5 Arson (ἐμπρησμός, палежь, запалѥнїе)
 6 Brawl (So-called “Potka”, Потка)
 7 Straying (Popaša, Попаша)

Part 6 Court System and Trial Procedure

26 Court System and Jurisdiction
 1 Feudal Courts
 2 Ecclesiastical Courts (“Court Christian”, Curia Christianitatis)
 3 City Courts
 4 So-called “Stanak” (Stanicum)
 5 Sovereign’s (King’s, Tsar’s) Court
 6 Organization of Justice

27 Trial Procedure
 1 Main Characteristics
 2 Stages of a Trial
 3 Types of Evidence
 4 Jury (porota, порота)
 5 The Judgment Pronounced by the Court or Judge and Its Execution
 6 Trial Procedure in Semiautonomous Towns

Centers for Byzantine Studies, Slavonic Studies, Balkan Studies, Mediaeval Studies, Legal History, Faculties of Law and History; scholars and students with an interest in Byzantine, Serbian and mediaeval legal history.
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