Dušan’s Code, Prizren manuscript [begining of 16th c.] – translation
| In the year 6857,1 the second of the Indiction, at the feast of the Ascension of our Lord, on the twenty-first day of the month of May.|
This code is established by our Orthodox Council,2 by the Most Holy Patriarch Kir 3 Joanik and by all the archpriests and clergy,4 both small and great, and by me, true-believing Tsar Stephan, and all the lords5 of my Empire, both small and great. These are the enactments of these laws.
1 i.e. 1349 A.D.
2 The word used is " sabor"
3 i.e. " lord"
4 crkovniki, lit. " churchmen"
5 Vlastelin, the usual word in the Code for a landowner or noble.
| Article No.1. Of Christianity |
First concerning Christianity. In this manner shall Christianity be purged.
Article No.2. Of Marriage
Lords and other people may not marry without the blessing of their own archpriest or of such cleric as the archpriest shall appoint.
Duchovnik, lit. "spiritual person"
Article No.3. Of Weddings
No Wedding may take place without the crowning; and if it be done without the blessing and permission of the Church, then let it be dissolved.
The object of this clause is to prevent irregular unions, such as were customary among slaves and serfs in Byzantium, who simply paired by order of their lord and master. The " crowning " is an incident in the Orthodox ceremony.
| Article No.4. Of the Spiritual Law |
And as his spiritual duty, every man must shew obedience and submission to his archpriest. And if any man sin before the Church or transgress any of these laws willingly or unwillingly, let him submit himself and give satisfaction to the Church : and if he listens not and disobeys and submits not to the orders of the Church, then let him be separated from the Church.
Article No.5. Of Cursing
Bishops shall not curse Christians for spiritual sins, but shall send twice and thrice to reproach him who has sinned. But if he will not then obey and show himself willing to carry out the order of the Church, then let him be separated.
Bishops - lit. "consecrators," svetitelie.
Article No.6. Of the Latin Heresy
And concerning the Latin heresy, any Christians who have turned to unleavened bread, let them return to Christianity. And if anyone fails to obey and does not return, let him be punished as is written in the laws of the holy fathers.
Unleavened bread (azimistvo, Gk. αζυμος, “unleavened “) in the Sacrament is used as the differentia of the Roman Catholic Church. The word "Christian " in the sense of a member of the Orthodox Church survives to the present day in the Balkans, Roman Catholics being referred to as "Latins."
Article No.7. Of the Latin Heresy
And the Great Church shall appoint protopops in all cities and market towns to bring back Christians from the Latin heresy, who have turned to the Latin faith, to give them spiritual instruction, and that every man return to Christianity.
The expression " Great Church " refers to the patriarchate of Constantinople. The article shows that the power of Rome in the Balkans was still redoubtable, that the Tsar should allocate the duty of reconversion to the Patriarch himself, without regard to the metropolitans and bishops.
protopops i.e. " chief priests " ; pop is the ordinary word for a parish priest.
| Article No.8. Of Latin Priests |
And if a Latin priest convert a Christian to the Latin faith, let him be punished according to the laws of the holy fathers.
Article No.9. Of Half-believers
And if anywhere a half-believer take a Christian woman to wife, let him be baptised into Christianity : and if he will not be baptised, let his wife and children be taken from him and let a part of the house be allotted to them, but he shall be driven forth.
The " half-believer " is a " Latin" one who is not completely Christian nor yet pagan.
Article No.10. Of Heretics
And if any heretic be found living among Christians, let him be branded on the face and driven forth : and whoso shall harbour him, he too shall be branded.
This clause must have applied principally to the Bogomiles, the most numerous heretical sect in the Balkans. They were Manichaeans of Paulician descent, and were particularly numerous in Bosnia, where they were an organised community.
Article No.11. Of Bishops
And bishops shall appoint priests in all parishes, in towns and in the villages : and those priests shall be those who have been blessed by the bishops spiritually to bind and to set free, and let every man hearken to them, according to the law of the Church. And those priests whom bishops have not appointed, let them be driven out and let the Church punish them according to the law.
The text of this clause is obscure. The Struga MS. is mutilated and the Prizren, generally so reliable, has an obvious error of the copyist, in repeating the word duchovnici, "priests” instead of svetitelije, "bishops” in the last phase. The Ravanica MS. appears with archiherei, a late emendation which does not make sense, for the beginning of the clause expressly states that the svetitelije, that is bishop, shall appoint the duchovnici, or priests. Novaković, after discussing the manuscripts comparatively, gives a restored and probably correct version, but on p. 155 he includes the emendation of archerei, which is obviously wrong and does not make sense. The translation of the text is as proposed by Novaković, Zakonik Stephana Dušana, p. 16.
| Article No.12. Of Spiritual Affairs |
And laymen shall not judge clerical matters. And should any layman judge an ecclesiastical matter, let him pay 300 perpers. Only the Church shall judge [sp. " ecclesiastical matters "].
The influence of the ecclesiastics in the Council is here seen, protecting their privilege of exemption from the civil courts.
While the richly endowed monasteries had the power of jurisdiction over their own serfs and slaves, as had the nobles also, the Tsar protected them against the caprice of the monks by giving them the right of appeal to the nearest kefalija, or prefect of a city, an imperial official. This is mentioned in one of Dušan's charters to Hilendar.
The " perper " was the Serbian money of account, like the contemporary English mark. The word is a corruption of the Greek υπερπυρος meaning gold " tried in the fire." It is usually regarded as the equivalent of half a ducat. According to Cibrario, in the middle of the 14th century the perper was then worth about six gold francs.
The word laymen is kosmici, Gk. κοσμικοι, worldly as opposed to spiritual men.
Article No.13. Of the Court of the Metropolitan
Metropolitans, bishops and igumens may not be appointed by bribery : and from now whoso shall be appointed Metropolitan, bishop or igumen by bribery, let him be accursed, as also he who appointed him.
The numerous variants in the text of this clause indicate, as Novaković points out, how closely it touched the life of the Serbian Church and people, where simony had doubtless developed as in the west.
Article No.14. Of the Appointment of Igumens
Igumens may not be appointed without the consent of the Church : as igumens in monasteries good men shall be appointed, who will enrich the Church, the House of God.
With this clause compare a passage in the chrysobul of the Monastery of the Archangel Michael, a foundation of Dušan, which provides for the appointment of the Igumen by the Patriarch and Tsar in consultation with the brethren of the monastery.
Igumens i.e. heads of monasteries in the Greek Church, from Gk. ηγουμενος, leader.
Article No.15. Of Life in Monasteries
Igumens shall live in the monasteries according to the law and the elders shall confer.
The word used is cinobija, Gk. κοινοβιον, place of common life.
Article No.16. On the Monks' Life
And for one thousand houses let there be fed in the monastery fifty monks.
This is a provision against the abuse of endowment, regulating the proportion of monks on the establishment to the number of households on the estates granted to the monasteries.
| Article No.17. Of the Monks Tonsure |
And monks and nuns who are shorn and live in their own homes shall be driven out to live in the monasteries.
Article No.18. Of the Monastic Tonsure
And monks who have taken the tonsure near their native district may not live in that church, but shall go to another monastery : and food shall be given them.
The point of this clause is explained by a note in the Hodoš MS., which agrees mainly with the Prizren and Struga texts, but with an addendum which is clearly an explanatory note by a copyist. It appears that there had been considerable abuse of the hospitality of the monasteries, especially on the part of local men joining the foundation, who wished to help their kinsmen and friends, whom they invited to the monastery as guests, often for a long visit.
Article No.19. Of Abandoning the Habit
And a monk who abandons the habit, let him be kept in a dungeon until he return again to obedience and let him be punished.
dungeon - temnica, i.e. dark place.
punished - or " do penance "- the word is pedepsati.
Article No.20. Of Graves
And if any person be taken out of his grave for magic and be burnt, any village that does this shall pay a fine : and if any priest shall come to it, let his priesthood be taken from him.
| Article No.21. Of the Sale of Christians |
And whoso shall sell a Christian into another - and false - faith, let his hands be cut off and his tongue cut out.
The ferocity of this clause is characteristic rather of the period than of the people. Bury has pointed out that the substitution of mutilation for execution is a chief item in the Christian humanisation of the imperial code of Byzantium, in which, in the Ecloga and Procherrion, it occurs in other clauses for several offences. Compare the penalties of mutilation prescribed in the Anglo-Saxon code. Mutilation seemed less repugnant to Christianity than execution, and it was cheaper and easier than incarceration.
Article No.22. Of the People of the Church
And serfs who live in the villages and hamlets of the Church, let them each go to his own lord.
In mediaeval Serbia the land was held by the Tsar, the nobles or the Church. The majority of the inhabitants were under the obligation of devoting a portion of their time and labour to their lord, that is, the Tsar, the nobles or the Church, as the case may be, as provided in various clauses of the Code.
The Tsar and nobles generally exacted more service than the Church and consequently there was a general desire to migrate to ecclesiastical estates. This clause insists on the return of such migrants to their proper lord.
The words translated " villages and hamlets " are selo and katun. The former was the smaller administrative unit within the zupa or district. The katuns were the summer huts of the Vlach and Albanian shepherds in the mountains.
serfs - l'udije vlastelsči, lit. "lords' people."
Article No.23. Of Transport by the Church
Let there be no transport by the monasteries, save when the Tsar himself is travelling, then shall the monasteries provide.
Ponos. This is a reference -to the custom by which the State had the right to demand means of transport for official purposes, such as the movement of troops, journeying of officials, for the purpose of fortifications or for the royal needs. The nobles exercised the same rights to a certain extent and probably abused it. The duties consisted in the provision of beasts of burden, horses or oxen, and carts and fodder. This was a heavy burden and the Tsar and the kings in their chrysobuls expressly exempted their own foundations, reserving the right for the sovereign only. The same service of "carraginen " appears in feudal England.
Article No.24. [No title]
And if any church official take bribes, let him be "scattered".
The Rakovac text has a variant which is a late emendation, " if any monk take a bribe, let him be flogged and branded." This was probably inserted by a late copyist who could not understand the punishment of " scattering," especially as applied to individuals. When applied to a village, scattering (rasuti) meant the dispersal of the people, the burning of their houses and forfeiture of their property ; when applied to individuals, only to the latter.
Article No.25. Of the Government of the Churches
And the Lord Tsar and the Patriarch and the Logofet shall govern the churches and none other.
The Logofet, from the Greek λογοθητης, corresponds to the royal Chancellor in Western States.
Article No.26. Of the Exemption of the Church
Churches situated on the lands of my Empire, my majesty releases from all services x both great and small.
rabota, the general Slavonic word for customary labour service; = Gk. αγγαρια, which is a word of Persian origin which originally meant impressment as a courier.
Article No.27. [No title]
And the Tsar's churches shall not be subject to the Great church.
The Great Church, Velika Crkva, is here the chief State Church, the Patriarchate, the Archbishop's or Metropolitan Church. In Dušan's time there were two, one at Ochrida, the other at Pec.
These " tsar's churches " were, like the Greek λαυραι, monasteries of royal foundations, privileged by charter, with complete autonomy, especially in administrative and economic matters. The Igumens of such churches had seats in the Sabor.
Article No.28. Of Feeding the Poor
And in all churches the poor shall be fed as is written by their founders : and should any one fail to feed them, be he Metropolitan, bishop or igumen, he shall be deprived of his office.
Article No.29. Of Monastic Life
And monks shall not live outside the monastery.
| Article No.30. Of Molesting Clerics |
Henceforward no authority may molest a monk or a serf of the Church. And whoso shall do this in the lifetime or after the death of my majesty, he shall not be blessed. And if anyone be guilty towards another let him sue him through the court and by suit according to law. And whoso shall molest or damage anyone without judgment, let him pay sevenfold.
serf of the Church, lit. " man of the church," crkovni človek.
Article No.31. Of the Patrimony of Priests
And priests who own land shall have their patrimonial land x and be also free ; and those priests who have no patrimonial land, to them shall be given three fields according to the law : and the priest's cap is free : and if he take more, he shall do work for the churches upon that land according to the law.
From this Article it is clear that the priests were allowed to own land and did not forfeit their inheritance on entering the Church. And that in the event of a priest having no land, a ration of three fields, presumably the amount considered necessary to enable a man to keep himself, was allowed to him for maintenance out of the Church lands. The priest's cap was an outward token of such exemption.
Baština, an hereditable landed property.
| Article No.32. Of Ecclesiastical Persons |
Ecclesiastical persons who administer Church villages and Church lands and drive the Church labourers and shepherds away, those who have driven the men away, let them be bound and their land and people taken from them ; and let the Church keep them until they have restored the men whom they drove away.
Ecclesiastical persons- Simply ludie, homines.
The meropche or meropci constituted the largest class of agricultural labourers, corresponding to the A.S. ceorls or the villeins of Norman England. The word is connected with the Gk. μερος, a share or heritage.
Article No.33. Of the Trial of people of the Church
People on the Church estates are judged before their own Metropolitan, or bishop or igumen for every plea. If the disputants are on the property of one church, they shall be judged before their own church : but if they are of two churches, both churches shall judge them.
| Article No.34. Of Estate Labourers |
And into my imperial estates, in Zagorje and elsewhere, the people of the Church shall not go, neither for mowing hay nor for ploughing, nor for the vineyards, nor for any compulsory labour, small or great. From all compulsory labour my majesty exempts them, let them work only for the Church. And whoso shall be found to have driven men of the Church into an imperial estate and disobeyed the law of my majesty, the goods of that owner shall be confiscated and he shall be punished.
The object of this clause is to protect the Church against the enticing away of its labour by other landowners. The Article also conferred privileges of exemption of the Church tenants from the obligations of compulsory labour.
The expression Zagorje, i.e. the district " beyond the hills" is a common place-name in Yugoslavia today. As here used it refers to the valley of the Lim, or perhaps of the Morava.
Of Estate Labourers - o sele mirop'skom.
the people of the Church - i.e. tenants of church lands.
compulsory labour- rabota.
men of the Church - metochija, a word of Greek origin (μετοικος, a settlement; or μετεχειν, to share); which meant, in the district between Prizren and Peć, a monastic estate.
Article No.35. Of the Power of the Churches
And my majesty has granted to the igumens their churches, that they be rulers of their goods, both mares and horses and sheep and everything else and that they may do with them whatsoever is deemed suitable and appropriate and lawful.
The Athos text adds : " and as is written in the chrysobuls of the holy founders."
Article No.36. Of the Rule of the Church
And let there be established communal rule for the monks in the monasteries, according to the capacity of the monastery.
communal rule, lit. "cenoebitic law” zakon kinovijskii.
Article No.37. Of the Business of Metropolitans
Laymen may not be officials and Metropolitans shall not send them to priests, nor may they conduct horses of the Metropolitan from priest to priest, but the Metropolitan shall send one monk with another from priest to priest, to conduct the business of the Church, that the priests may send the revenue which they have taken from their land.
officials - The word used is ek'sar'ci, lit. " exarchs." .
land - Again the word is baština.
Article No.38. Of feeding Horses
And from henceforward the horses and colts of my majesty shall not be sent to the churches nor to the Church villages to pasture.
A striking instance of the influence of the Church in Dušan's day, successfully claiming exemption from every form of public service, down to such details as the grazing of state horses.
| Article 39. Of the Lords and Gentry|
And to the lords and gentry, who live within my state, both Serbs and Greeks, to whom was given land as a patrimony and in chrysobuls before my reign and who held it up to the day of this council, those patrimonies are confirmed.
This clause opens the second part of the Code, beginning with a general confirmation of the title of the nobility to their estates.
The Serbian text has two words for nobles, vlastelin and vlastelicic, the second being a diminutive form; but what the distinction was is not known. Art. 75 recognises the right of a lesser lord to hold an entire village. Probably they were two degrees of nobility.
They were the αρχοντες and αρχοντοπουλοι of Byzantium.
A similar division of the landowners into two classes appears throughout feudal society, equally in Hungary and Poland, as in the western states.
The word translated " patrimony" is bastina.
Article No.40. Of Charters
And those charters and decrees which my majesty hath granted and shall grant, and those inheritances, are confirmed, as also those of the first Orthodox Tsars : and they may be disposed of freely, submitted to the Church, given for the soul or sold to another.
For charters and decrees the text uses two Greek words, χρυσοβουλλα and προσταγματα in the Serbian forms chrisovolie and prostag'me. - inheritances - baštine.
Article No.41. Of Lords' Hereditary Estates
If any lord have no child, or if he have and it die, then upon his death the inheritance remains empty until there be found someone of his kin up to the third cousin, and to him shall the inheritance fall.
Lords' Hereditary Estates i.e. the baština of the vlastelin.
Article No.42. Of Free Hereditary Estates
And all hereditary estates are free of all works and tribute to my majesty, save that they shall pay the corn-due and provide soldiers to fight, according to the law.
It appears that in Serbia there was no form of Salic Law nor limitation of inheritance in the male line. The word bratočed, lit., " brother's child," includes nieces as well as nephews. Art. 48 permits a daughter to sell her jewels and raiment inherited from her father.
Novaković suggests that there were two kinds of baštine or hereditary estate, one entirely free of any burden, the other carrying certain feudal duties. The former could be inherited in the female line, but the latter passed in the male line only as females could not exercise military duties. Compare Art. 174, which grants the right of free enjoyment of a baština provided the supply of labour be maintained. A similar distinction between the patrimonial bastina and the feudal pomestic, the military fief, is to be found in 17th-century Russia, and between the alod and feudum of Germanic law.
Soć ; the word is the same as the Russian socha, which means both a two-shared plough and a ploughland. Cf. the caruca and the carucate of Domesday Book.
| Article No.43. Of Estate by Force |
Neither the Lord Tsar, nor the King, nor the Lady Tsaritsa is free to take estates by force, nor to buy nor exchange, unless the owner freely consent.
The " King " here is the Crown Prince, on the analogy of the Byzantine " Caesar."
Article No.44. Of Lords' Slaves
And such slaves as a lord has, they shall be part of his estate and to his heirs for ever. Only a slave may not be given as a marriage portion.
The otroci occupied the lowest rung on the social ladder; they were the chattels of their owners, probably being conquered autochthonous people, or prisoners of war or bought persons, but Art. 103 gives them certain personal rights. The word otrok primarily means a child ; it is obsolete in Serbian, but survives in Czech as the normal word for a slave.-
marriage portion - prikija, from Gk. προικιον, earlier προιξ.
Article No.45. Of Free Estates
And when lords and other people have hereditary churches upon their estates, neither the Lord Tsar, nor the Patriarch, nor any bishop may subject those churches to the Great Church, but the hereditary owner is free to appoint his own monk and to take him for ordination to the bishop in whose diocese it is, and in that church the bishop shall control only ecclesiastical affairs.
This clause shows that landowners enjoyed the privilege, at least on some properties, of advowson, subject to ordination by the bishop, whose control was strictly limited to purely ecclesiastical affairs. -
hereditary churches - crkvi baštine.-
hereditary owner -baštinik.
| Article No.46. Of Slaves |
And whoso hath slaves, let him have them as an inheritance. And only the lord himself, or his wife, or his son, may free them and none other.
slaves i.e. otroci.
Article No.47. Of the Church
And any lord who shall have submitted his own church to another church, hath no more control over it.
Article No.48. Of Lords and Horses
And when a lord dies, his good horse and arms shall be given to the Tsar, and his great robes of pearls and golden girdle, let his son have them and let them not be taken by the Tsar : and if he have no son, but have a daughter, then his daughter is free to sell or give it freely.
The surrender of the horse and arms of a tenant-in-chief on his death to the prince is what in Teutonic and English law was termed " heriot." The origin of the custom is described by Tacitus in the Germania in his account of the relation of the " comes " to the " princeps " or " dux “. On the same analogy "good horse " would be " best horse “corresponding to the " best chattel " of the English law of heriot. The horse and weapons would be conferred afresh upon his successor, if male and of age.
Article No.49. Of the Lords of the Marches
If any foreign army come and ravish the land of the Tsar, and again return through their land, those frontier lords shall pay all, through whose territory they came.
The entrustment of frontier areas to marcher lords (markgrafen, marchiones, margraves, here vlastele kraištinci) with especial rights and responsibilities, is a feature common throughout mediaeval Europe. Cf. the " palatines " established by William I in Durham, Chester and Kent
| Article No.50. Of Insults to Gentlemen |
If a lord insult and shame a lesser lord let him pay one hundred perpers. And if a lesser lord insult a greater, let him pay one hundred perpers and be beaten with sticks.
For the value of the perper, see Art. 12.
lesser lord - The contrast is here, as in Art. 39, between the magnate, vlastelin, and the mere gentleman, the vlasteličić.
Article No.51. Of Presenting a Son at Court
And when a man shall present a son or brother at Court, the Tsar shall ask him : " Shall I trust him ? " And he shall say : " Trust him as myself " And if he do any evil, let him pay who hath presented him. And if he should serve as others serve in the Tsar's Palace, he shall himself pay if he do wrong.
The wording of this Article is somewhat obscure, although the meaning seems clear enough. First, we have the system of guarantee and then two classes of misdemeanor. Novakovic suggests that in the first case, if it were a serious or disgraceful crime, the guarantor shall be liable, but if the son or brother commit some venial offence or breach of discipline when serving at Court, he shall himself pay the penalty.
Or it may be that he who serves the Tsar directly was not deemed to need a guarantor as much as one who was not under the Tsar's eye.
Article No.52. Of Treason
For treason for any case brother shall not pay for brother, father for son, kinsman for kinsman, if they dwell separately in their own houses : he who hath not sinned shall not pay anything. Only shall he pay who hath sinned, he and his household.
With this clause compare No. 71, which is really a continuation of it.
The household was the smallest administrative unit in the village, collectively responsible for the fines, taxes and misdeeds of any of its members, as also for the rabota.
| Article No.53. Of Forcing Noblewomen |
And if any lord take a noblewoman by force, let both his hands be cut off and his nose be slit. But if a commoner take a noblewoman by force, let him be hanged. And if he take his own equal by force, let both his hands be cut off and his nose slit.
commoner - sebar, the general mediaeval Serbian word for anyone not of noble or gentle birth.
Article No.54. Of the Fornication of Noblewomen
And if a noblewoman commit fornication with her man let the hands of both be cut off and their noses slit.
man - človek, i.e. slave, serf or other dependent.
Article No.55. Of Insulting Lords
And if a commoner insult a lord, let him pay one hundred perpers and be singed. And if a lord or gentleman insult a commoner, let him pay one hundred perpers.
Article No.56. Of Summoning Lords
A lord shall not be summoned in the evening, but before dinner, and he shall be warned beforehand. And whoso shall be summoned by the officer before dinner and shall not come by dinner time, he is at fault, and from that lord shall six oxen be taken.
officer - pristav, etymologically analogous to " assistant " The word occurs often in the Code. He was the executive official of the Court; he also executed imperial deeds of gift, for which service he received a special tax. In Art. 91, we find him placing his knowledge of law and procedure at the disposal of litigants and formally acting as advocate.
Article No.57. Of Maintenance
And if any lord be on maintenance and do wrong to any man by rancour, waste his land, burn his house, or do any other mischief, his holding shall be taken from him and another shall not be given to him.
It was customary for the Tsar to send his nobles on official duty to regions remote from their estates and to issue authority to them to demand board, lodging and transport from the inhabitants. Cf. the similar provision against abuses committed by guardians of the estates of minors in Magna Carta.
| Article No.58. Of the Death of a Lord |
If any lord who owns one village in a district or among districts should die and any damage be done to that village by fire or other cause, then shall the whole district pay for that damage.
district -župa, the general word for a governmental district or "county," in Hungary as well as in the Balkans. The word may be of Avar origin. Estates were often scattered, and an owner may often have held villages in various and remote districts, isolated from his main property, surrounded by other owners. Such a village on the death of the owner would be exposed to the danger of looting by neighbours. The application of the general principle of collective responsibility was the surest means of protecting, in those times, the quiet succession of the next owner and the inhabitants of the village.
Article No.59. Of Fiefs
No man is free to sell or buy a fief, who has not an hereditary estate. And no man may subject fief-lands to the Church : and if they do so, it is not valid.
A pronija (προνοια, i.e. " provision "), which we have translated " fief," was land held by military tenure, or for some other special service, and the tenant had no right of ownership, could not sell it, nor convert it into a baština.
The pronija was, in fact, the usufruct of an estate given in lieu of salary.
This clause also forbids the alienation of a fief in mortmain, for it remained in the Tsar's dominium even though the feudatory had possessio et usus.
Article No.60. Of the Tsar's Maintenance
Everyone shall provide for the Tsar wherever he goes. From every town to the district, from district to district. And again from district to town
When the Tsar travelled, he was accompanied by a numerous retinue, the transport and provision of which was charged as a burden upon the region through which he was passing, as was the general custom in mediaeval Europe. The units charged were the grad or town, the zupa or district. The burden was always a heavy one and from Art. 23 it is seen that even the Church was not exempt.
Article No.61. Of Returning from the Army
When a lord returns home from the Army, or any other soldier, if he be summoned to the court of justice, let him remain at home for three weeks and then let him go to court.
Article No.62. Of Summoning Lords
A greater lord shall not be summoned without the writ of the court, but others with the seal.
Cf. the early English parliaments to which only the greater lords were summoned by individual writ.
writ - kniga : book, writing.
| Article No.63. Of Incomes |
Governors who are in the cities shall take their income according to law, and let corn and wine and meat be sold to them at one dinar which is sold to others for two ; and citizens alone may sell to him and none other.
The governor of a city was a military official appointed directly by the Tsar and responsible to him. The title is not a native word, but a Greek one, borrowed from Byzantium, kefalija, lit. " headman." The right of pre-emption by royal officials is common in mediaeval Europe.
The dinar was the twelfth part of a perper; the word comes from the Latin denarius.
Article No.64. Of the Poor
A poor weaving woman is free, like a priest.
Novaković suggests that the meaning of this article is that a poor woman who supports herself by weaving is exempt from all kind of rabota as a pop is, according to Art. 31.
The word translated weaving woman, kudeljnica, is from kudelj, hemp.
Article No.65. Of Priests
If a priest has no land, let three lawful fields be given him. And no priest whosoever shall depart from his lord... And if his lord do not feed him according to the law, let him come to his archpriest and the archpriest shall tell the lord to feed the priest according to the law : and if the lord hearken not to him, then is the priest free to go where he will. If the priest own hereditary land, the lord has no power to drive him out, but he is free.
land - stas, Gk. στασις , lit. " standing".
| Article No.66. Of Brothers |
When brothers are together in one house and someone summons them before the court, he shall dispute the case whom the court shall indicate. But if it so be that one of them be at the Tsar's court or at the court of justice and he come and say : "I will submit my elder brother to the court “ then let him do so and let him not be driven by force to the court.
Article No.67. Of Slaves and Villagers
Slaves and villagers who dwell together in one village shall all pay together any payment which comes due : such payment men make and work that they do, so much land let them have.
Otroci and meropci. It is to be noted that, although there was a distinct difference between the otroci and meropci (cf. ante, Art. 44), when the two classes lived together in one village, attention was not paid to the difference in personal rights between them. Novaković considers that this identity of procedure could occur only where the villager had no baština, and for that reason the difference in rights became merely nominal, since a meropach without a free holding was in no better position than an otrok, to all intents and purposes.
Article No.68. Of Villagers
The law for the villager on all land. He shall work for two days in the week for the fief-holder and let him pay him one imperial perper in the year and let him cut his (lord's) hay with all his household one day and his vineyard one day ; and if there be no vineyard, let him do other work for one day. And what a villager do, let him store it all and according to the law nothing else shall be taken from him.
This important clause defines the amount of compulsory labour due from the meropach, and by denning limits it against abuse.
Article No.69. Of Commoners
Commoners have no council. If any meet in council let his ears be cut off and let him be singed upon the face.
| Article No.70. Of those in one House |
If there dwell in one house either brothers or father or sons, or any other, independent by bread or property but yet dwelling in one hearth, let him do service like other small people.
The expression " small people " means commoners or villagers.
Article No.71. Of the Crimes of Brothers
Whoso commit a crime, a brother or son or kinsman, who dwell in one house, all shall pay to the lord of the house, or hand over him who did the crime.
The principle of the collective responsibility of the kindred can be paralleled from the Anglo-Saxon codes, and is indeed a common feature of every society where the transition from the pastoral-patriarchal order to the agricultural-feudal is not complete.
lord - gospodar.
Article No.72. Of Unfree Persons
And if any unfree person come to the Tsar's Court, let justice be done, to each, save only to the slave of a lord.
unfree person - nevolan. The implication of this clause is that every meropach had a locus standi in the state courts, at least in criminal matters.
| Article No.73. Of the Poor |
A poor person who cannot bring an action nor defend one, let him have an advocate to act for him.
Article No.74. Of Village Grazing
Let village pasture with village, where one village, there also the other. Only legal enclosures and meadows may not be grazed.
Article No.75. Of County Grazing
No district may graze its stock within another district. And if in the district there be a separate village which belongs to any lord, or to my majesty, or is a Church village, or belongs to a gentleman, that village shall graze with the rest of the county district and no man shall forbid it to so graze.
The " village “- is selo and the " district " is župa.
The " legal enclosures and meadows " were presumably Crown lands and excluded, but the rest of the pasture land in the county was common land for the grazing of all the villages in the county, regardless of ownership, and the pasture lands, which were alpine or sub-alpine in character as a rule, were allotted to various counties.
Article No.76. Of Straying
As to straying. If any man's cattle trespass on corn or a vineyard or a meadow in error, then let him pay for the damage done what the valuers assess. But if he trespass knowingly, let him pay for the trespass six oxen.
The word translated " valuers " is duševnici, meaning persons who estimated value by conviction, on their duša or soul.
Article No.77. Of Fights
A brawl between villages, fifty perpers ; but between Vlachs and Albanians, one hundred perpers. Of the fine, one half to the Tsar and one half to the owner of the village.
The Vlachs and Albanians were the autochthonous inhabitants, reduced by the Serbs to the position of herdsmen in the mountains.
| Article No.78. Of the Land and People of the Church |
If the Church have an action with any man touching land or Church people, or one show a deed of gift and say : "I will produce the almoner " then let no heed be paid either to the deed or to the almoner, but the case shall be tried by the law of my majesty and let the appeal be to my majesty.
gift - milost, lit. " grace "
almoner - milostnik, the man by whose agency the deed was granted.
Article No.79. Of Boundaries and Land
But if villages dispute between themselves touching land or boundaries, let them sue by the law of the sainted king from the time of his death. If anyone produce an imperial deed of gift and say : " The Lord Tsar gave me this, as my equal held before me " if he produce the imperial deed, let it be accordingly, and let him hold it, save if it be Church land.
The Sainted King, in the Code, always means Milutin, Dušan's grandfather.
equal - The word used is drug, of which the primary meaning is " another," " second" and which came to mean " fellow," " friend." Here it has the mediaeval sense of the word " peer."
Article No.80. Of Village Boundaries
Touching village boundaries, let both claimants bring witnesses, one a half and the other a half, according to the law. And whom the witnesses shall name, his shall it be.
Such an appeal to the knowledge of " good men of the vicinage " is common throughout early mediaeval Europe ; it contains in itself the germs of the universal " jury " system. A juror is merely a sworn witness.
Article No.81. Of Mountains
The mountains which are in my territories, those which are of the Tsar shall be of the Tsar, and those which are of the Church shall be of the Church, and those of the lords shall belong to those lords in whose holding they are.
A confirmation of existing rights and arrangements, but interesting as showing once more the tripartite division of the mountain land (planina) which applied equally to the valleys, villages and katuns. From the point of view of inherited property, all land, whether populated or not, fell into one of these three categories. See Art. 93 and note.
Article No.82. Of the Vlachs
When a Vlach or Albanian stays in a village, other herdsmen who come after them may not stay in the same village. And if any one stay by force, let him pay a fine and for the grass he has consumed.
The spring and autumn migrations to and from the mountain pastures were the occasion of much movement of Vlach and Albanian shepherds, with their families and flocks. The Serbian lords and peasants were concerned that they and their pastures should not suffer from these activities.
| Article No.83. Of Disputes about Land |
Where in one dispute about land two imperial deeds of gift are produced, the property shall be his who holds the land now, up to the time of this council, and his deed shall be upheld.
dispute - The word is ipotes. Gr. υποθεσις.
imperial deeds of gift - kniga, " book " ; the O.E. " bok " had exactly this sense. The clause provides an interesting analogy to Henry II's legislation protecting occupants by the " possessory assizes," nearly two hundred years earlier.
Article No.84. Of the Ordeal
After ordeal there shall be no further trial. Whoso proves his innocence shall give no further proof to the courts, nor shall he pay costs. There shall be neither surety in court nor false accusation nor imprisonment for debt, but let every man be tried according to law.
ordeal - In addition to the trial by boiling water, which is provided here by the use of the word kotal, cauldron, we shall find in Art. 150 a reference to ordeal by hot iron, especially invoked in accusations of theft and brigand age, which were subject to very heavy penalties. The abolition of the ordeal by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 had of course no validity in Orthodox countries.
costs - This is the interpretation by Danicic of the word oprava, which is the key-word of the first sentence, and both he and Novakovic interpret the clause in this way.
surety - Ruka, an arm or hand, probably contains an allusion to some old legal formality in connection with an oath, and Novakovic suggests that it means a guarantor when the first trial fails to reach a decision, in which case recourse was had to compurgators on oath.
false accusation - Opadania ; it appears to mean the bringing by the accused of a false accusation against another party in order to divert the attention of the Court.
imprisonment for debt - Udava, the right of a creditor to imprison his debtor, either by action of the Court, or arbitrarily to bind and hand him over to the Court.
Article No.85. Of Heretical Utterance
Whoso utters heretical words, if he be noble let him pay one hundred perpers : and if he be not noble, let him pay twelve perpers and be flogged with sticks.
heretical words - babunska rec, which for many years was a puzzle. It is now known that Babuni is another name for Bogomiles ; it occurs in the so-called Krmcija of the time of St. Sava, where we find the heading, " On Masaljani, who are now called Bogomili - Babuni." In an old manuscript of Sveta Trojica near Plevlje, dating from between 1285 and 1291, there is an anathema against zli eretici prokleti babunie, " evil heretics accursed Babuni."
Micklosich suggests that the name of the Babuna Pass came from some settlement of Bogomiles in that wild district.
Article No.86. Of Homicide
When there is a homicide, he is held guilty who provoked it, even if he be killed himself.
As killing involved a wergild, perhaps this clause implies that the kindred of the guilty party should pay the fine, while the family of the man provoked should be free of liability.
Article No.87. Of Deliberate Murder
Where there occurs homicide without intention and violence, the fine shall be three hundred perpers. But if a man kill intentionally, both his hands shall be cut off.
| Article No.88. Of Lords' Suits |
When lords are at law the loser shall give surety.
surety - jemce, bail or security, presumably for fulfilling the judgment of the court in a civil action.
Article No.89. Of Summoning Offenders
If a man summon an offender before the judges and then do not come to court himself, but sit at home, the party summoned, if he come at the appointed time before the judges and remain according to the law, is discharged from that debt for which he was summoned, inasmuch as he that summoned him sitteth at home.
Article No.90. Of Pledges
Pledges, wherever they be, shall be redeemed.
Article No.91. Of Advocates
When two are at law, if one say : " I have an advocate here in the Tsar's court, or in the Judge's court," let him produce him. But if he seek him and find him not in the court, let him return forthwith to the court and declare : " I have not found the advocate." And if he be at dinner, let him be given time till supper : and if he be at supper, then until the next dinner hour : and if the Tsar or the court have sent that advocate upon some service, then he who hath called him is not at fault, and time shall be given him till the advocate come, to bring him to the court.
advocate - The word is pristav, lit. "assistant," often it variously means " officer " or " official " (cf. Art. 56).
| Article No.92. Of Horse-stealing |
If any man recognise his own horse under another man and it be in the mountains or in the wilderness, let him take him to the nearest village and hand him to the village and call upon it to deliver him to the tribunal: and if the village do not deliver him to the tribunal, let that village pay so much as the tribunal shall direct.
Horse-stealing and cattle-rustling are the characteristic crimes in a society that is still largely pastoral. Clauses like this are frequent in the Anglo-Saxon codes.
Article No.93. Of Enticing Men
Whoso enticeth a neighbour's man into another estate, let him repay sevenfold.
Cf. The English Statute of Labourers, exactly contemporary with this Code, for a similar attempt to prevent the migration of peasants in a time of labour shortage, which in England, at least, was due to the Black Death.
Article No.94. Of Lords and Commoners
If a lord kill a commoner, whether in a city, county or in a mountain district, he shall pay one thousand perpers. But if a commoner kill a baron, he shall pay three hundred perpers and both his hands shall be cut off.
For the tripartite division into cities, counties and mountains, see Art. 81.
Here we have the tripartite division of the country into gradovi, walled cities under an imperial official the kefalija, responsible directly to the Tsar and appointed by him, the župe or counties, with their trgovi or market towns and sela, villages, parcelled out into great estates, and the katuni or herdsmen's huts in the planine or mountains, all words with precise meaning.
district - katuni.
Article No.95. Of Insulting and Killing Clerics
Whoso insulteth a bishop, monk, or priest, he shall pay one hundred perpers. But if a man kill a bishop, monk or priest, let him be killed and hanged.
Apart from the killing of clerics here referred to the death sentence is provided for in the Code only in cases of a commoner who rapes the wife of a nobleman, for parricide and certain other offences.
The Serbian text has the expression " be killed and hanged " which does not specify the method of killing. The hanging probably means that the body was gibbeted after death.
| Article No.96. Of Parricide |
Whoso killeth his father, mother, brother or own child, let that murderer be burnt in the fire.
This is the only reference in the Code to the penalty of burning to death.
Article No.97. Of the Lord's Beard
Whoso shall pluck the beard of a lord or good man, both his hands shall be cut off.
Reverence for. the beard, as the sign of dignity and honour, was so great that to pull it was a dire insult equivalent to murder, involving the same penalty of amputation of both hands (v. Art. 87).
Article No.98. Of Commoner's Plucking
If two commoners pluck, the fine is six perpers.
Article No.99. Of Arson
If anyone be found who has burnt a house, or a threshing floor, or straw or hay, let the village give up the burner : and if it do not give him up, then let that village pay what the burner would have suffered and paid.
Article No.100. Of Arson
And if anyone outside a village burn a threshing-floor or hay, let the neighbourhood pay or hand over the burner.
These two clauses (99, 100) go together, but the texts of No. 99 are confused and even contradictory, with such obvious errors as, "if he be not found, let the village give him up." In any case, the general meaning is clear, for the clauses insist once more on the principle of collective responsibility, the village in the first instance, the neighbourhood in the second. Okolina, neighbourhood, does not appear to have any precise significance, as do the words selo, village, and župa, district or county.
Nothing is said about the punishment in the more authentic texts, but those of the Athos group specify that he shall be burned alive if found, and that if he be not found, the village pay what he would have suffered and paid. The two Serbian words meaning suffered and paid, patil i platil are sufficiently alike to render confusion easy; the first is omitted from the Struga text, which is the more authentic.
| Article No.101. On Violence |
There shall be no violence against any man in my dominions : and if there should be a case of assault or violence, let all his horses be taken from him, one half to the Tsar, the other to him who was attacked.
The Athos text adds that the penalty shall be "as set forth in the Law Book of the Holy Fathers/' where (in the Syntagma of Matthaeus Vlastaris, bk. Φ, chap. 8) we read that in the event of a death ensuing as a result of an armed attack, if the guilty party were noble, his estate was forfeited, and if a commoner, he was beheaded and his body thrown to the wild beasts.
Article No.102. On Cautionary Deposits
There shall not be deposited any caution by any man at any time. And whoso shall so do, he shall pay sevenfold.
This is probably a prohibition of the making of large deposits of caution money, the deposita in litis aestimationem pecunia, of Justinian, and the " wed " of old English law. Šafarik has shown that it existed -in old Czech law, under the name vzdani, where it was chiefly invoked for material damage of a rural nature, such as felling timber, damage by straying cattle, poaching and land disputes. The Serbian word, uzdanije, is the phonetic equivalent of the Czech word.
Article No.103. On the Trial of Slaves
In the case of slaves, they shall be tried before their own lords for all their own affairs, but for crimes they shall go before the judges, that is for bloodshed, murder, theft, brigandage and harbouring men.
For the crime of harbouring, see note under Article 141. This article illustrates the development of what were in English law called " pleas of the crown," of which the royal courts took cognisance even in the case of the unfree, inasmuch as such crimes involved a breach of the king's peace.
Article No.104. On Officers in Absence of Husband
The officer of the court shall not call upon a wife when the husband is not at home, nor shall a wife be summoned to court without her husband, but a wife shall give her husband notice when she goes to court. And in that matter a husband is guiltless, until she give him notice.
This article shows a regard for the sanctity of the home which is quite in keeping with the Serbian tradition.
The word translated " officer " is pristav.
| Article No.105. On the Contradiction of Charters |
Imperial charters which are produced before the judges in any matter, which my Code contradicts, and which the court find invalid shall be brought and submitted to me.
The wording of this clause is involved, but the meaning seems clear enough. The Tsar had evidently found that cases were liable to occur where charters and deeds of gift ran counter to the law as written in the Code. Therefore he orders the judges, in cases of such collision, to refer the matter back to him and produce the original deed. Compare also Arts. 78 and 83.
But experience showed that this procedure was unsatisfactory and in 1354 he amended it, in Article 171, where he issues direct orders to the judges that the Code itself is final and authoritative and overrides any separate deeds or enactments issued separately by the Tsar.
The word translated " charters " is knige, literally " books".
Article No.106. On Lord's Servants
If any servant of a lord do any crime, if he be the son of an official let him be judged by his father's household by jury; but if he be a commoner, let him be taken to the cauldron.
A lord had his own servants or officials (dvorani) to whom he made grants from his estates in the form of pronije or fiefs (see Art. 68). He would employ the sons of such officials as pages, messengers and so on, as the officials must have been men of education, very likely of noble birth
since their privileges are here expressly protected. Commoners, on the other hand, probably employed as cooks, grooms, servants, craftsmen, would have to undergo the ordeal by boiling water (see Art. 33).
For trial by jury (porota), see Arts. 151 et seqq.
Article No.107. On Beating Cooks
Whoso shall beat the cook or officer of a judge shall be imprisoned and all that he hath taken from him.
Dusan's judges were itinerant, constantly travelling about the country, as Novaković comments, where inns were few and probably confined to the cities and towns, so there is nothing remarkable in their taking a personal cook with them, as well as their beadle. It was also a protection against poisoning. The effect of the Article is to protect the personal staff of the judges and to add dignity and security to the judicial service, and in this way is quite consistent with Art. 111, and the general trend of Dušan's legislation to promote the efficiency and independence of the justiciary.
The words translated " cook" and " officer " are sokalnik and pristav.
Article No.108. The Tax on Taking Possession
Touching the tax on taking possession, let it be thus : on land, three perpers to the officer on a village ; on a mill three perpers : on a district, three perpers on each village and on a city, a horse and raiment: on a vineyard three perpers : on a horse one perper : on a mare six dinars : on a bull four dinars : on a sheep three dinars.
This tax, izdav, seems to have been a payment to the office of the court by successful litigants. The " district " is the župa.
Article No.109. On Poisoning
If a magician or poisoner be detected, let him be punished according to the Law of the Holy Fathers.
The Law of the Holy Fathers means the Syntagma of Matthaeus Vlastaris. No copy of the Code exists without having the Syntagma attached to it.
The word translated " magician " is Magiinik.
| Article No.110. On Violence |
Judges who travel about my dominions and in their own province may not take their maintenance by force, nor ought else, save only gifts which may be given them by free will.
The interest of this clause lies in the evidence that the judges were on circuit within a definite district (oblast) and that they had the right to a fixed maintenance (obrok) for themselves and their staff, payable by the county.
For the province, functions and duties of judges, see Arts. 175, 179 and 182.
Article No.111. On Insulting Judges
Whoso shall insult a judge, if he be a lord, let all be taken from him ; but if it be a village, let it be scattered and confiscated.
This Article, together with No. 107, protects the persons and dignity of the judges, who were by their very duties exposed to the anger of disappointed and often formidable, litigants.
For scattering, see Art. 24.
Article No.112. On Escape from Prisons
If any man escape from prison, so soon as he come to my court, be he my man or a man of the Church or of a lord, forthwith let him be free. And if he escape, whatsoever he leave, let it belong to him from whom he hath escaped.
The word translated " prison " is temnica, literally, a dark place.
Article No.113. On Asylum
And any prisoner kept in my court, if he escape to the court of the Patriarch, let him be free, and similarly if to the court of the Tsar, let him be free.
This version of the right of asylum is framed on more generous terms than at Byzantium, where exception was made of heretics, heathens, slaves, murderers, adulterers and traitors. Dušan excludes only serfs (Art. 72).
| Article No.114.|
Men who have broken a bail and return from abroad to my dominions, those who have given security for them shall pay nought.
Novaković quotes a modern instance of the use of bail when, in 1825, Milosav Resavac cleared the Resava of brigandage, which was very rife in that district at the time, he made use of the system of guarantors.
Article No.115. On Absconders
If any man receive another from another estate who shall have fled from his own lord or court, if he produce the Tsar's letter of pardon, it shall not be contradicted. But if he shew no pardon, let him be sent back.
This clause once more illustrates the tendency of Dušan's legislation to strengthen the hold of the landowners upon their men and their power of judgment over their own villeins and serfs.
Article No.116. On Finding
If any man find anything within my territory, let him not take it and say : "I will return it if any man find out." If any man take or seize aught, let him pay what a thief or robber would pay. But whoso find anything while in the army in a foreign land, let him bring it to the Tsar or to the commander.
Article No.117. Of Seizures
If anything come to any man in the Tsar's realm out of some city or other district which belonged to some other lord before the Tsar took that land or county, there shall be no claim, neither of man nor of aught else. But if that happen after the Tsar annexed those lands to his realm, it may not be claimed with these words : " This is from the war-time, when the lands and towns did not belong to the Tsar."
The text is somewhat corrupt and I have followed the transcription of Novaković, which makes the meaning clear enough.
| Article No.118. Of Merchants |
No man, noble or other, may molest merchants who travel about the Tsar's dominions, nor rob them by force nor scatter their merchandise, nor take their money by force. Whosoever shall be found seizing or robbing their merchandise shall pay five hundred perpers.
This clause was evidently inserted for the sake of ratification and promulgation from the text of the commercial treaties with Dubrovnik, the party most vitally interested in the trade of Dušan's dominions, as the security of their numerous agents, depots and caravans was of capital importance. A commercial treaty with Dubrovnik had been signed as early as 1195-1228 by Stephan the First-Crowned, who held the counties responsible for the safety of passing traders. One of the first acts of King Milutin was to make the villages liable, or in their default the crown itself, as a guarantee and to decree the penalty of five hundred perpers.
Article No.119. Of Merchants
Merchants who trade in scarlet cloth of better or inferior quality shall travel freely without hindrance in my dominion and sell and buy and trade however commerce may require.
Scarlet cloth was used in the state robes of the court and noblemen. The Serbs evidently first heard of it from Italy, as they called it skrlat, probably from the Persian sagalat. It was originally the name of a heavy cloth, introduced to Europe by the Venetians.
Article No.120. On Customs Officers
An Imperial customs officer may not hinder nor detain any man in order to sell his goods at a low price : to every man the markets are free and every man may take his goods wheresoever he will.
This general order for the protection of the right of free commerce was constantly enacted and repeated in commercial treaties and is inserted in the Code for final confirmation.
Article No.121. On Pre-emptions
And no lord, either small or great, nor any other man may detain and hold as security his own or other merchants, to prevent them from proceeding to the Imperial markets Let every man proceed freely.
This is a prohibition of the right of pre-emption which some lords had enjoyed, and an implied reservation of the right to the crown.
Royal pre-emption of meat is mentioned in a commercial treaty between King Milutin and Dubrovnik.
Still, the lords seem to have been strong enough actually to use the right, certainly after Dušan's death, for it survived into Turkish days. Novaković quotes a local enactment of the Sanjak of Nikopolis, which reserved to the pasha the first right of selling young wine and grapes for “two or ten days after the harvest," to enable him to dispose of his own supplies without competition. It was, in fact, probably a universal privilege of the ruling authorities throughout the Ottoman Empire, a legacy of the feudal days.
Dušan set his face against it. At the very beginning of his reign, before he assumed the imperial title, he issued a decree prohibiting anyone from hindering the men of Dubrovnik, or any other "man of the land," that is, agriculturist, from dealing freely in corn, under fear of the king's displeasure and a fine of 500 perpers.
| Article No.122. Of Merchants |
And if any lord detain a merchant, let him pay three hundred perpers : and if a customs officer detain him, let him pay three hundred perpers.
Article No.123. On Saxons
On market towns. Wheresoever Saxons have cleared forest up to the date of this Council, that land let them have. And if they have unlawfully taken any land from any lord, let the Lord sue them according to the law of the Sainted King. But from henceforth a Saxon may not clear and that forest which he clears shall not belong to him, nor shall they settle people there, but it shall stand empty, so that the forest grow. Let no man forbid a Saxon so much timber as he need for his business, so much let him fell.
The " Saxons " i.e. German immigrants, who were engaged in mining and metallurgy, had cleared forests and squatted in the same way as the original Serbs ; Dušan was determined to stop this, though at the same time allowing them such timber as they needed for fuel or constructional work.
It is curious that this clause is only in the Prizren and Rakovica texts, the latter differing in only a few minor orthographical discrepancies. Its omission by the later copyists is understandable, since its provisions were by their time obsolete, but its absence from the Athos and Struga texts is surprising.
The word clearing, krčevina, means the original estate of a family, cleared by them from the primeval forest; it was free and could not be alienated, as distinct from a baština, which could be bought and sold.
Article No.124. Of the Law in Towns
Greek towns which the Lord Tsar hath taken, whatsoever charters and decrees have been granted to them, whatsoever they have and hold up to the time of this Council, let them hold, and it is confirmed to them and let no man take aught from them.
charters - i.e. chrisoboulie, Gk. χρυσοβουλλα
decrees - i.e. prostagme, Gk. προσταγματα.
| Article No.125. Of Maintenance in Towns |
Towns are not liable to the maintenance of officials. When a countryman come, let him go to the inn, either small or great, and let him hand over his horse and all that he hath, that the innkeeper take charge for him entirely. And when the guest leaves, let the innkeeper hand to him all that he hath received from him ; and if anything be lost, let him pay its full value.
As was the general custom in mediaeval Europe, State officials and employees and foreign ambassadors and envoys enjoyed the right of demanding board and lodging (priselice) on their journeys. This right was probably abused and Dušan did all he could to limit it. The system was necessary in remote places, where the liability was thrown on the counties (cf. Arts. 155 and 156). But in the towns there were inns " both great and small," so the system was unnecessary.
" Inn " is stanianina.
Novaković quotes an interesting extract from Jireček (Arch. /. Slav. Phil., XIV, pp. 75-77), describing an actual case arising under this clause. It is from the records of the courts of Dubrovnik for the year 1405. Some traders from that city arrived at Vučitrn, coming from Priština, and entrusted their horses and goods to the innkeeper, who took charge of them and locked them up. But owing to some incident connected with the unexpected arrival of a Turk, something was lost. The merchants brought an action against the innkeeper under this clause and won their case.
Article No.126. Of Town Lands
If there be robbery or theft on urban land around a town, let the neighbourhood pay for it all.
As every village was responsible for misdeeds on its territory, in the event of a thief or robber not being arrested, so here we have the responsibility thrown on the surrounding district, (okolina) for crimes committed in the neighbourhood of a town.
It would be expected that the town itself would be liable, as the land is specified as gradska zemlja sto je okolo grada, the town land that is around the city. Probably the reference is to the agricultural holdings of the burghers outside the town walls.
Article No.127. Of the Building of Towns
For building towns. Where a town or castle is overthrown, let the citizens of that town rebuild it and the district in which the town is situated.
In those troublous times the damaging or destruction of a town was doubtless of frequent enough occurrence and the burden of reconstruction was a heavy drain on the resources of the citizens, especially in sparsely populated districts, and so it was shared by the surrounding district (župa), which enjoyed the protection of the city.
Article No.128. Of Aid to the Tsar
When the Lord Tsar hath a son to marry or a christening and hath need to build a court and houses, let every man help, both small and great.
This was one of the public duties due to the Tsar from his subjects. Despot Stefan Lazarević, in a deed of gift to the Monastery of Hilendar in 1411, exempted the monastery from " works to my lordship of building a house and court." These are extraordinary aids (auxilia). In contradistinction the regular aids were paid on the occasion of the marriage of a daughter, the knighthood of a son, or to ransom a sovereign from captivity, as in the case of Richard Coeur de Lion.
| Article No.129. Of Commanders |
In every army the commanders have authority even as the Tsar himself. What they say, let it be obeyed. If any man disobey them in aught, he shall be tried even as though he had disobeyed the Tsar. And the courts, small and great, which are in the army, the commanders shall judge them and none other.
This is a definite delegation of the imperial authority to the military commanders, vojevode, and provision of courts martial.
Article No.130. Of Churches
Whosoever in the army destroys a church, let him be killed or hanged.
Hanging was reserved for the most disgraceful of crimes, such as the killing of priests (cf. Art. 95).
Article No.131. Of Brawling
In the army there shall be no brawling. If two quarrel let them fight a duel, and no other soldier shall help them. And if anyone go to succour or help, let him be flogged.
The Struga Text has for the last words da se ubiju, let them be killed, for while biti means to beat, strike or fight, ubiti means to kill. Novaković regards this as a copyist's slip, but the Athos group of texts prescribe the ferocious penalty, " let their hands be cut off," for those who intervened in the quarrel.
Article No.132. Of Booty
If anyone in the Imperial dominions buy aught from booty taken on foreign soil, it is free to him to buy that booty provided he do so not within the territories of my Empire, but on foreign soil. And if someone accuse him, saying : " That is mine," the dispute shall be settled before a jury according to the law, whether he bought it on foreign soil and is not a thief nor a receiver nor an abettor: and such let him hold as his own.
From this clause and No. 116 it is clear that looting was recognised as a custom, but subject to certain restrictions.
| Article No.133. Of Ambassadors |
An ambassador proceeding from a foreign country to the Tsar, or from the Lord Tsar to his own lord, when he come to any village, let honour be done him, that he have enough; but he must only stay for dinner or for supper and go his way to another village.
The word translated " ambassador " is poklisar, from the Byzantine αποκρισιαριος.
Article No.134. Of Hereditary Estates
When the Tsar grant a hereditary estate, let him to whom a village is given pay the logofet thirty perpers for the charter : but to whom a county is given, for each village thirty perpers and six to the clerk for the writing.
The word translated " hereditary estate " is baština, the " charter " is chrysoboul, and " county " is župa.
For the functions of the logofet, compare Art. 25. The word for clerk is dijak, from the Greek διακονος, " servant," whence the English word deacon.
Article No.135. Of the Army
If the army go through the Tsar's land and lodge in any village, let not the train which follows the army lodge in the same village.
train - drouga.
| Article No.136|
My Imperial writ may not be disobeyed, to whomsoever it be sent, be it to the Lady Tsaritsa, or to the King, or to the lords, great or small, or to any man. No man shall disobey what is written in my writ. But if such a writ cannot be fulfilled, then let him who received it go forthwith back with the writ to me to explain to me.
This clause is the first Article in the Supplementary Code, dating, according to the majority of the MSS., from the year 6862, that is, 1354. The clauses are of a somewhat different character, less generalised, dealing less with general principles, and more particular, evidently inspired in the light of experience gained since the first Code was promulgated.
The Tsar had been granting very extensive privileges to the Church and to the nobles, but here by special edict he asserts his paramount authority over all, including the Empress herself, and the kralj, or King, which in the Code always means his son Uroš.
The word translated " writ " is kniga, lit. " book."
Article No.137. Of Charters
My charters which I have granted to the towns of my Empire, that which is written in them may not be changed, even by the Lord Tsar himself, nor by any other man. The charters are firm.
Art. 124 had already confirmed the existing rights of the Greek cities incorporated within the empire by Dušan's conquests. This may have caused some apprehension among the Serbian nobility that their privileges were in some way threatened, and consequently their charters, here also called by the Greek name of "golden bulls” chrisoboli, are definitely and finally confirmed.
Article No.138.Of Errors
If there be in any charter a word wrongly written and there be meanings changed and words altered otherwise than my Majesty commanded, let these charters be torn up and they shall not have the inheritance.
inheritance - i.e. baština.
| Article No.139|
No master may do to a serf within the territories of my Empire aught that is contrary to the law, save only what I have written in the Code. That shall they do and give. And if he do aught to him against the law I enact, every serf is free to lay plaint against his master, be it I the Tsar, or the Lady Tsaritsa, or the Church, or my lords or any man. No man is free to withhold a serf from my Imperial Court, only the judges shall judge him according to right. And if the serf win against his master, let my judge give warranty that his master pay all to the villein at the appointed time, and that his master do no evil to the villein after the sentence.
The words translated " master ", " serf " and " lord " are respectively gospodar, merop'ch and vlastelin.
Here again is evidence that this part of the Code is a supplement to the original, in the reference to the earlier part, that is, to Art. 68, which confirms the division of the land into State or Imperial, ecclesiastical, and the baronial, and that of the free men, and confirms the terms of feudal service due in bastine, or hereditary estates, and pronije, or fiefs granted in return for service, which differed only in the power of disposal and inheritance.
Article No.140. Of Receiving Men
My Majesty commands. No man may receive any man, neither I the Tsar, nor the Lady Tsaritsa, nor the Church, nor a lord, nor any other man whosoever may receive any man without my Imperial writ. And if he receive him, let him be punished as a traitor.
And also in the market-towns, county prefectures, and in the cities, if anyone receive any man, in the same way shall he be punished and given up.
After protecting the villeins against the tyranny of their lords, the Code now proceeds to forbid once more the crime of harbouring fugitive serfs, and to bind them more irrevocably to the land.
| Article No.142. Of Lords |
Any lord, greater or less, to whom I have given land and towns, if any one of them be found to have seized villages and people against the law of my Empire which I have enacted in my Council, let his estate be taken from him and all that damage which he has done, let him pay for from his own house and let him be punished even as a deserter.
This clause is supplementary to Art. 57, which deals with the abuse of authority and hospitality on the part of barons when travelling on duty or some temporary service. But this clause deals with cases where the barons were appointed to administer newly acquired territories. Dušan's policy was to administer the new provinces wisely and justly, so he sharpened the punishment for misdemeanour from mere confiscation to that of a deserter, which included mutilation.
Article No.143. Of Brigands
If any brigand, coming through a frontier province, rob anywhere and again return with his booty, let the Warden of the Marches pay sevenfold.
This clearly supplements Art. 49, which provided for Wardens of the Marches or counts palatine (kraištniki), who were held responsible for raids by foreign enemies ; they are now held liable for the incursions of armed brigands (gousari) from across the frontier.
Article No.144. Of Those who go Abroad
If any lord, great or small, or any other man of my Empire fare abroad, and the neighbouring village and the county around arise and plunder his home and cattle which he has left, those who do so shall be punished as traitors to my Empire.
This supplements Art. 58, which provides quiet succession in the event of the death of a landowner and protects his property during the interval.
| Article No.145. Of Brigands and Thieves |
My Majesty commands. In all lands and in the towns and counties and in the marches there shall be no Brigands nor thieves in any region. And in this manner shall thieving and brigandage be stopped. In whatsoever village a thief or brigand be found, that village shall be " scattered " and the brigand shall be hanged forthwith, and a thief shall be blinded and the headman of the village shall be brought before me and shall pay for all that the brigand or thief hath done from the beginning and also shall be punished as a thief and a brigand.
Article No.146. Of Bailiffs
And also prefects and lieutenants and bailiffs and reeves and headmen who administer villages and mountain hamlets. All these shall be punished in the manner written above, if any thief or brigand be found in them.
The words used for these village officers are knezove, premikjorje, vladal’ar, predstanici and cel'nici.
Article No.147. Of Bailiffs
If any bailiff make a report to his master and that lord be inattentive thereto, he shall be punished as a brigand or a thief. (In the condition of the manuscripts the translation of this clause must be accepted only as provisional.)
These three clauses go together and illustrate the extent of brigandage in the country at the time, as well as Dušan's resolution to stamp it out.
The word gospodar, translated " headman" in Art. 145, literally " lord” must not be taken in this context to mean more than a prominent yeoman in the village, having his own holding, and acting in the capacity of representing the village, on the analogy of the present-day mukhtars of Macedonia and the predsednici opštine of Serbia.
In Art. 146, Dušan includes various administrative officials in the net, threatening them with the actual penalties of the criminals if they were caught harbouring them.
| Article No.148. Of Judges |
If a Church, or a lord, or any other man in my Empire disobey the writ of my judges whom I appoint to judge in the land, or whatever they write concerning any brigand or thief, they shall all be punished as disobedient to my Majesty.
This and the next two clauses are all part of the one series dealing with brigandage.
Article No.149. Of Brigands and Thieves
And in this manner shall a brigand or thief be punished, who is taken in the act. He is deemed guilty if there be found on him a stolen thing, or if he be taken in the act of robbing or thieving, or when they are handed to the county or to the village, or to the headmen or to the lord who is over them, as written above. And these brigands and thieves shall not be pardoned but blinded and hanged.
Similar summary punishment of the " hand-having thief " is to be found in the Anglo-Saxon codes.
Article No.150. Of Thieves
If anyone sues a brigand or thief in the courts and there be no proof, then shall he undergo ordeal by iron, as I have decreed. Let them take him to the doors of the church from the fire and place it upon the Holy Table.
The procedure in Ordeal by Hot Iron was as follows : a piece of iron was heated in the doorway of a church and the accused was obliged to lift it from the fire and place it on the Holy Table. If he succeeded in doing this without hurting himself he was declared innocent and discharged, but if he burnt his hands, it was deemed that God had declared him guilty. The effect was obviously to leave the decision in the hands of the priests.
| Article No.151. Of Juries |
My Majesty commands. From now henceforward let there be a jury for great things and small. For a great matter, let there be twenty-four jurors, for a lesser matter twelve, and for a small matter, six. And these jurors shall not make peace between the parties, but shall acquit or convict. And let every jury be in a church and the priest in robes shall swear them. And in the jury those are believed whom the majority acquit on oath.
The last sentence means that the jury (porota) decided by a majority vote.
Article No.152. Of the Law
As was the law under the Sainted King my grandfather, so let great lords be jurors for great lords, for middle persons their peers, and for commoners their peers. And on a jury there may be neither kinsman nor enemy.
Sainted King my grandfather i.e. King Milutin.
Article No.153. Of Merchants
Juries for foreigners and merchants shall be made half of Serbs and half of their fellow-countrymen, according to the law of the Sainted King.
| Article No.154. Of Jurymen |
When jurors acquit on oath according to the law, and after acquittal guilt be proved against him whom they have acquitted, I shall fine those jurors one thousand perpers each and in future those jurors shall not be believed and they may not take either husband or wife.
The jury system expounded in these four clauses is really a development of Arts. 79 and 80, concerning village boundaries, and Art. 106, about the trial of certain privileged persons, providing for the reference of the dispute to assessors of equal rank with the litigants, and to the empanelling in the proportions of half and half to represent each party, although in Art. 80 the jurors have rather the function of expert witnesses.
Here we have a Serbian custom, by no means the invention of Dušan, but the elaboration of the existing system already legalised by his grandfather King Milutin, who in his turn certainly only formalised an ancient national institution.
The porota was not a jury in the English sense of the word to-day, as it was used in civil but not in criminal cases. Also, it did not merely give verdicts, but actually tried cases. It had, in fact, judicial functions.
The earliest commercial treaties with Dubrovnik, as far back as the early days of King Stephan the First-Crowned (1196-1228), even before his coronation, provide courts for the settlement of disputes, which sat at an appointed place and time, that is, from St. Michael's Day (29 September) to St. George's Day (23 April), and a later enactment of the same king reserved such disputes for the king's court.
The standing court was a mixed, elected tribunal, in fact, a Court of Arbitration, held near Dubrovnik.
Apparently Milutin found that the long journey to Dubrovnik involved inconvenience and expense to his subjects, and so provided for the holding of mixed courts at any place. One of his decrees enacts that in a dispute between a Serb and a Ragusan, the decision be referred to one Serb and one Ragusan, and if between a Saxon and a Ragusan, to one Saxon and one Ragusan.
But none of the records of Milutin refer to juries and the word porota does not occur, yet Dušan definitely attributes the institution to his grandfather, and in an edict of the same year as the Code, 1349, granting certain privileges to the Ragusans, he provides for each side, in mixed disputes, to provide one half the jury, " one half of Serbs and one half of Latins, according to the Law as it was in the time of my father and of my grandfather the Sainted King”.
It must have been an ancient institution of the Serbian people, for the word porotnik occurs in the Vinodol Charter of 1288, which had no connection with the Serbs of the kingdom and empire.
Art. 152 also formalises the principle of trial by peers, which was promulgated by Milutin and gave the litigants the right of protest against the presence on the jury of a kinsman of the other party or of a definite enemy.
Another interesting point is the expression " middle-class people," which seems to indicate the beginning of the breakdown of the strong distinction between the privileged and unprivileged classes : here we have the greater barons on the one hand and the commoners on the other sharply discriminated as usual, but for the first time we find a definite recognition of an intermediate class, which presumably included the lesser barons, the merchants, the townsfolk and tradesmen, superior craftsmen, who were not of aristocratic rank, but superior to the rank and file of the commoners and countryfolk in general. Perhaps the expression " good people " in Art. 97 refers to this early bourgeoisie, in which we must probably include the foreign residents, Saxons, Ragusans and Italians, who formed the chief element in the towns.
Art. 153, in contrasting foreigners and merchants with Serbs, confirms the general impression we have of the period, that commerce was almost entirely in the hands of foreigners, mostly Ragusans, who, though they spoke the same language as the Serbs, were Latins in faith and Italian in culture. The other foreigners were the Saxon miners and metallurgists and probably Greek and Italian traders, and, perhaps, some German and Hungarian mercenaries.
The last sentence of Art. 154 is peculiar. Novakovic follows the Prizren text, generally so trustworthy, which has ni da se kto ot nich ni muži ni ženii, " and let none of them take husband or wife” In Serb, as in Russian, different words are used for marrying according to the sex of the person. The Serbian verb for a man to marry is oženiti se, a reflexive verb from the word žena, woman. The word for a woman, in the modern language, is udati se, literally, to give oneself up, but in the Macedonian dialect the girls still use the old verb we have here, mužiti se, from the word muž a husband. The words ni muži in the text cannot possibly be applied to a man. It must mean, if the text is correct, that in Dušan's time, women sat upon juries.
Rovinsky quotes a record from the Zeta, from the time of Ivanbeg (1465-1490), in a boundary dispute when a porota was summoned of bjelošani with their wives.
The later Athos and Bistrica texts have a different version, " and if they be found to have knowingly wrongfully acquitted or given up, or taken any bribe, having paid as aforesaid, they shall also be banished to another unknown land." This seems a more reasonable text, but it is difficult to reconcile it with the Prizren and Struga versions.
It is noteworthy that trial by porota seems to have been quite different from trial by the judges, as the two are not coupled together and the jury does not seem to have dealt with criminal cases
Article No.155. Of Maintenance
Henceforward the right of maintenance does not ensue, save when a great lord with a standard comes into a county, or a lesser lord who holds a fief and there is no connection between them, or between their fiefs, they shall pay.
Article No.156. Of Maintenance
In the lands of my Empire, speaking of serfs, lords shall not take maintenance nor any other payment, save that they pay from the house. The meaning of these two clauses is not very clear and there is probably something missing from the text.
It is evidently a restriction on the right of priselica, that is, board, lodging and transport (cf. Arts. 57, 125, 133 and 142), which had been abused, expressly denying it to lords in villages which belonged to the Tsar and were neither seigneurial nor ecclesiastical and were exempt from any burden, so that any visitor would have to pay out of his own pocket. Novaković considers that lords might not demand this privilege in the territories of other lords and that the people were obliged to give it only to their own overlords and not to others. An exception is made in favour of a standard-bearer, an officer of high military rank, or of a lesser baron travelling on duty, who held property adjoining or a pronija. In any case, the general meaning seems to be that the right to demand this privilege is abolished except in these two instances.
| Article No.157. Of Guarding Roads |
Where there are mixed counties, ecclesiastical and Imperial villages, or seigneurial, and all the villages are mixed, and there is not one lord over the whole county, but if there are prefects and judges whom I have appointed, let them place guards on all roads, and let them hand over the roads to the prefects, to keep them with their guards, and if anyone rob or steal or do any crime, let recourse be had forthwith to the prefect, who shall pay him from his own house, and the prefects and patrols shall seek the robbers and thieves.
The kefalije or prefects were appointed by the Tsar as his representative over the towns. In addition to their former duties, they are now entrusted with that of maintaining order on the Tsar's highways and, on the old principle, are held pecuniarily responsible for robberies and thefts committed in their area, which makes this Article supplementary to Nos.145-47.
The Article shows that, as we should expect, župe were often divided, and the holdings of big landowners did not necessarily coincide with the boundaries of their župe. Where a župa belonged to a single lord, there could be no question as to responsibility, the whole of which would fall upon the lord, and probably the Tsar would not be separately represented there, except by his travelling judges. Art. 160 expressly allocates the responsibility for the safety of the highways to the lord of the župa as to a prefect.
But in mixed župe there might be towns which were reserved to the Tsar himself and there the prefect carried the responsibility for the roads.
Article No.158. Of Unpopulated Hills
If there be an unpopulated hill between two counties, the neighbouring villages which are around the hill shall keep the watch. If they fail to keep watch, whatsoever happen on that hill in the wilderness by way of damage or robbery or theft or any crime, then shall those neighbouring villages pay, to whom it has been ordered to keep the watch.
| Article No.159. Of Merchants |
When merchants come for a lodging for the night, if the reeve or headman of the village do not admit them to rest in the village according to my law as it is in the Code, if the traveller lose aught, that reeve or headman shall pay all, for not having admitted him to the village.
reeve i.e. vladalac
headman i.e. gospodar
Article No.160. Of Guests or Travellers
If it so happen that any traveller, merchant or monk be robbed of aught by brigand or thief, or be in any way detained, let them all come to me and I will repay them what they have lost and I will recover it from the prefects and lords to whom the patrolling of the road was entrusted. And let any traveller, merchant or Latin come to the first guard with all that he has and bears with him, that the guard deliver him to guard all the way. And if it so happen that he lose aught, there is the jury of trusty men, and whatsoever they shall swear upon their soul to those jurors, that shall the prefects and guards pay them.
These two articles illustrate Dušan's care for the interests of commerce and his intention of protecting it efficiently. He gave protection to all travellers, but in Art. 160 he lays stress on merchants, who might be his own subjects, but were mostly Latins, that is, Roman Catholics, who were chiefly Ragusans and Venetians and occasionally, perhaps, other Italians.
| Article No.161. Of Jurors |
When litigants are suing in court and pleading their own case and the defendant is pleading his, he is not permitted falsely to accuse the plaintiff, neither of breach of faith, nor of any other matter, but only to defend his case. But when the trial is finished, if he have aught [to say], let him discuss it with him before my Imperial judges, but he shall not be believed in anything until the case is finished.
This Article and the next two deal with procedure in the Imperial Courts. The drafting is somewhat involved, but it appears to forbid the defendant attempting to discredit the plaintiff before the evidence is heard and a verdict obtained.
| Article No.162. Of Officers |
Officers may go nowhere without writs of the court or without my Imperial writ; but wheresoever the judges send them, they shall write them writs, and no officer shall take aught save what is written in the writ. And the judges shall keep true copies of the writs which they have given to the officers whom they have sent on business through the land. And if an officer be accused of acting otherwise than the writ prescribes, or if they have tampered with the writ, there shall be a trial for them and they shall appear before the judges, and if it be shown that they have fulfilled what is written in the copies which the judges keep, they are justified. But, if it be that they have tampered with the writ of the court, let both their hands be cut off and their tongues slit.
The pristavi or officers of the courts (v. ante, Arts. 56 and 91), had great responsibilities and many opportunities of taking advantage of their position, and this clause would hardly have been inserted in the supplementary part of the Code unless experience had shown the necessity.
Article No.163. Of Judges
Every judge shall write his judgments and keep them and shall write a copy thereof and give it to him who has won his suit. Judges shall send as officers good, honest and trurstworthy men.
Article No.164. Of Receiving Men
As to men. Whoso shall have harboured a man before this Council shall be tried by the first court, as is written in the first Code.
Here again we have clear evidence that this is part of a supplementary Code, published in 1354, five years after the first.
The offence of receiving or harbouring " men " or serfs from other lords, was dealt with in Arts. 140 and 141 very sharply, in contrast to the milder treatment of Art. 115 in the first part of the Code.
Article No.165. Of Swindlers
If there be a swindler who lead men into deceit, lying and fraud, he shall be punished as a thief and a robber.
| Article No.166, Of Drunkards |
If a drunken man come from anywhere and strike anyone or cut him or wound him, yet not to death, then shall one eye be removed and one hand cut off. But if a drunken man molest anyone or pull off his cap or do him other insult, but do not wound him, he shall be flogged with one hundred strokes and cast into prison, and when he is taken from prison he shall be flogged again and released.
Article No.167. Of Litigants
When litigants come before the Imperial Court, those words shall be believed which they first utter, for such are to be believed, and on them shall judgment be given, but on the last words, nothing.
Article No.168. Of Goldsmiths
Goldsmiths may not be in the counties and the land of my Empire, but in the market-towns, where I have ordered dinars to be minted.
Article No.169. Of Goldsmiths
And if there be found a goldsmith outside the towns and market-towns of my Empire in any village, that village shall be scattered and the goldsmith branded : and if there be a goldsmith in a town who coins dinars secretly, he shall be branded and the town shall pay such fine as the Tsar saith.
| Article No.170. Of Goldsmiths |
Let the goldsmiths be in the towns of my Empire to strike money and for other purposes.
The second half of Art. 169 occurs only in the Athos group of texts, but we may accept it as Novaković does, in spite of the omission from the older MSS.
Article No.171. Of the Law
A further edict of my Majesty. If I the Tsar write a writ, either from anger or from love or by grace for someone and that writ transgress the Code, and be not according to right and the law as written in the Code, the judges shall not obey that writ but shall adjudge according to justice.
In Art. 78 the Tsar places the written law above any deeds of gift or title issued by him, but only in connection with disputes over land, where the Church is involved. In Art. 105, where his writs clash with the law, the judges have instructions to refer the matter back to him.
This practice was evidently found to be unworkable, and so the law was amended by this decree and the written Code made paramount, overriding any special edicts or writs issued by the Tsar from time to time.
Article No.172. Of Judges
Every judge shall judge according to the Code, justly, as written in the Code, and shall not judge by fear of me, the Tsar.
This guarantee of judiciary independence is based on the Byzantine tradition princeps legibus alligatus (cf. Bury, The Constitution of the Later Roman Empire, Cambridge, 1910, p. 29) and it has been shown by Radojčić that these clauses are based upon a Novella of Manuel Comnenus of 1159.
Article No.173. Of Lords
Lords, greater and lesser, who come to my Imperial Court, whether Greek, German or Serb, whether great lord or anyone else, and bring with them a brigand or a thief, shall be themselves punished as a thief or a brigand.
As the lords who visited the Imperial Court were usually accompanied by a numerous retinue, probably including foreign and other mercenaries and armed retainers, it was a necessary precaution to hold them responsible for the misdeeds of their party.
The reference to Germans is interesting. The Saxon mining and metallurgical engineers would hardly include courtiers among their number, and they are invariably referred to as Sasi. Here we have the word Nemac, German, and the allusion is probably to officers commanding detachments of mercenaries, such as the German Palmann, or Philippe de Mezieres.
| Article No.174. Of Hereditary Estates |
Workers on the land who have their own inherited property, land, vineyards or purchased estate, are free to dispose of their own lands and vineyards, to give them as dowries, to give them to the Church, or to sell them, but there must always be a labourer on that place for him who is lord of that village. If there be no labourer in that place for him who is lord of the village, the same lord is free to take the vineyards and the fields.
We have the unusual word zemljanin, literally, a man of the land, really an agricultural labourer; a similar expression, ot zemskih ljudi, from men of the land, occurs in an edict of Stephan the First-Crowned, in contrast with the Vlah and Albanian herdsmen. In a deed of gift by Decanski, father of Dušan, to Hilendar, we have zemljanin in the sense of any man holding land, whether noble or base, and in Dušan's commercial treaty with Dubrovnik, it occurs in the sense of a rural worker who sells his corn.
inherited property i.e. bastina.
Article No.175. Of Judges
Whoso be judge in my Imperial Court, let him judge such crimes as occur there. The Court judges shall also hear cases where litigants happen by chance to meet in my court. But let no man summon to trial in my Imperial Court, but in the circuit of the judges whom I the Tsar have appointed. Let each appear before his own judge.
Dušan retained a judge attached to his Imperial Court, to try cases actually arising there, a germ of a King's Bench. The same function was performed by the Palatine in Frankish courts, and by the soudi of the early Bohemian princes.
| Article No.176. Of Towns |
All towns which are in my dominions shall be in relation to the law in all things as they were in the days of the first Tsars. For suits which citizens have between themselves, let them be judged before the prefects of the towns. Or before the Church courts. And if a man from the country have a case with a citizen let him sue before the prefect of the town and before the Church and the clergy. According to the law.
The first sentence amplifies the confirmation of the urban rights which was granted to the Greek towns in Art. 124 and is now extended to all towns in the empire. It then proceeds to give judicial power to the prefects, here called vladalac, a word which is generally used for the reeve or headman of a village, and to the ecclesiastical authorities.
Article No.177. Of Suits at Court
Lords who dwell always at my court, if they are sued, shall be tried by my court judges, and no one else shall try these cases.
Article No.178. Of Judges' Writs
If judges send their officer or writ and any man disobey and repel the officer, then shall the judge send his writ to the prefects and to the lords in which province the disobedient party is, that these authorities execute the writ of the judge. And if these authorities do not so execute, let them be punished even as the disobedient ones.
Article No.179. Of Judges
Judges who are travelling within the bounds of their circuit shall attend to and assist the poor and the needy.
| Article No.180. Of Stolen Goods|
If anyone find aught robbed or stolen or taken by force, let each party in the case give evidence. If anyone buy anything, either in the territories of my Empire or in another land, let him give evidence touching it, and if he produce no evidence, let him pay according to the law.
give evidence - svod, which means a special process of inquiry in cases of disputed ownership and charges of theft, especially of livestock. The accused party was called upon to give an account of his possession of the animal, and from whom he had originally acquired it; that person was then sent for and interrogated, and so on, until the whole history of the animal was traced back, and the existence, or otherwise, of a theft finally proved. The Anglo-Saxon codes are full of similar efforts to deal with cattle-rustlers.
Article No.181. Of Suits Before the Tsar
My decree to the judges. If there be a big case and they cannot decide it and come to a decision, however great the court may be, let one of the judges come with both the parties before me, the Tsar. And whatsoever the judge shall wish to award, let them write down each award, that there be no mistake, and that I the Tsar may decide the case according to law.
Here we have provision for appeal to the Tsar in person.
Criminal appeals seem to have usually been decided by Ordeal by Boiling Water (Art. 84), or Hot Iron (Art. 150), and this is the only Article which suggests an appeal in civil actions.
| Article No.182. Of Unlawful Suits |
No man who is in the district of the judges may bring ah action in my Imperial Court, or anywhere else. He may appear only before his own judge in whose district he is, that the matter may be tried according to the law.
This is but a repetition of Arts. 175 and 179.
Article No.183. Of Shepherds
All shepherds of my Empire who have actions among themselves touching murder, brigandage, theft, killing, harbouring or land, shall appear before the judges of the court.
With this Article compare No. 103, where serfs have their petty cases tried by their overlords, but are brought before the judges on five criminal counts, namely, bloodshed, murder, theft, brigandage and harbouring. A serf could not own property, but shepherds (stanici) were not necessarily serfs and might have land of their own, so to this list land disputes are added.
The article was probably inspired by attempts on the part of powerful barons to arrogate to themselves the power of trying their own serfs, villeins and shepherds for all offences, which the Tsar stopped by reserving criminal cases for his own courts.
At the same time the Church retained the privilege of trying its own people, even for these offences, as is made clear in the Charter of the Monastery of the Archangel; only if one party to the case was not one of their own men was the matter brought before the crown courts. Dušan
granted the same right to Hilendar.
Article No.184. Of Prefects
My lords and prefects who hold the towns and market-towns may none of them receive any man for the prison without my warrant. And if any such do receive such a man without my command, let him pay me five hundred perpers.
prefects i.e. kjefalije.
Article No.185. Of Prisons
In the same way, he who holds my prisons shall receive no man without my warrant.
The opening words of Art. 184 may be read in two ways. Either we may put a comma after the word " lords," contrasting them, as the county authorities, on the one hand, with the prefects who were in the towns on the other. Or we may follow Novaković who reads it unquestioningly as though the expression " who hold the towns " applies to the lords as well as to the prefects, which implies that lords of the county had some functions in the towns as well.
Article No.186. Of the Judgment of Right and Crime
Cases which were brought for right and for crimes which were committed before the Code and which are now done, let each court go ...
This clause is preserved only in this fragmentary form and that only in the Prizren MS., so it,is not possible to establish the text or interpret its meaning.