The Law of the Twelve Tables 451- 449 BCE
The Twelve Tables is a body of law, or a code, (although not likely in the strict sense of a code covering all topics), is widely accepted as forming the basis of Roman Law. Consisting of mostly civil law it was important in codifying and publicising the customary laws of the predominantly agrarian community operating at that time.
Table V dealt with inheritance and guardianship. Some excerpts follow:
” 4. If anyone who has no direct heir dies intestate the nearest male agnate shall have the estate.”” 5. If there is not a male agnate the male clansmen shall have the estate.”” 6. Persons for whom by will…a guardian is not given, for them..their male agnates shall be guardians.”” 9. Debts of the estate of a deceased shall be divided, according to law, among the heirs, proportionally to the share of the inheritance that each acquires. “
An agnate was a relative from the father’s side, someone of the male lineage. Another early code of law was the ancient laws of Gortyn, inscribed in stone, still preserved on Crete.
Ancient Roman Statutes, The Corpus of Roman Law, A Translation, Volume II,
A C Johnson, P R Coleman-Norton, F C Bourne,
C Pharr & M B Pharr (Eds),
University of Texas Press, Austin, 1961
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