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Money in the Western Legal TraditionMiddle Ages to Bretton Woods$
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David Fox and Wolfgang Ernst

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704744

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704744.001.0001

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Money in the Roman Law Texts

Money in the Roman Law Texts

(p.93) 6 Money in the Roman Law Texts
Money in the Western Legal Tradition

Thomas Rüfner

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an overview of the monetary laws during the Ancient Roman Empire. Specifically, it discusses the codifications instituted by Emperor Justinian in the corpus iuris, a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence on which jurists of the medieval ius commune based their reasoning. The texts in Justinian’s compilations contain the building blocks for a functional theory of money; illustrative material for the workings of a bimetallic or trimetallic system; and the provisions necessary to ensure that coins can circulate freely and function as a universal medium of exchange and means of payment. The chapter also looks into the three alternative means of payment used by the Romans: credit money; bullion; and the Tesserae frumentariae. The sources analysed in this chapter prove that the Roman jurists were able to grasp the function of money as a medium of exchange and to express it in similar terms as modern economists.

Keywords:   Ancient Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian, corpus iuris, jurisprudence, common law, ius commune, bimetallic, trimetallic, medium of exchange

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