Constitution (Roman law)

In Roman law, a constitution is a generic name for a legislative enactment by a Roman emperor. It includes edicts, decrees (judicial decisions) and rescripts (written answers to officials or petitioners).[1] Mandata (instructions) given by the Emperor to officials were not Constitutions but created legal rules that could be relied upon by individuals.[2]

Caracalla, the 22nd Roman Emperor.

One of the most important constitutions issued by a Roman emperor was Caracalla's Constitutio Antoniniana of 212,[3] also called the Edict of Caracalla or the Antonine Constitution, which declared that all free men of the Roman Empire were to be given Roman citizenship and all free women in the Empire were to be given the same rights as Roman women, Indeed, Emperor of Caracalla issued the edict on the advice of his mother, Julia Domna.[4]


  1. ^ "constitutions" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World. Online edition. Oxford University Press, 2007. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Constitutions (Constitutiones)" in The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3rd revised edition, 2005. Online edition. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Late Antiquity" by Richard Lim in The Edinburgh Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010, p. 114.
  4. ^ Kolb, Frank. "Caracalla". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 29 October 2014.

Further readingEdit

  • H.F. Jolowicz and B. Nicholas, Historical Introduction to Roman Law, 3rd edn. (1972)
  • Tony Honoré, Emperors and Lawyers (1981; 2nd edn. 1994).