The Twelve Tables (The First Code of Roman Law)



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The Twelve Tables (The First Code of Roman Law)

Table I. Civil Procedures

  • If someone is accused and called to go to court, he must go.

  • If he does not go, he may send a witness to stand for him. If he does not come or send a witness, he may be captured and forced to come to court.

Table II. Civil Procedures

  • If a person needs evidence or a witness, he may go every third day to the doorway of the person and call for him.

Table III. Debt

  • If a person owes a debt and is brought to court, he shall have 30 days to pay the debt.

  • After 30 days the person he owes money to can bring him to court.

  • If he or someone in his behave, does not pay the debt then, the person owing the debt may be put in chains.

  • The person in chains must be fed.

Table IV. Parents and Children

  1. If a child is be born with a severe deformity, it shall be killed.

  2. Parents have the right to sell their children into slavery three times.

  1. Because it takes 9 months to conceive and birth a child we know that if the “father” has been dead for ten months it is impossible for him to be the biological father therefore the baby is not his and does not receive inheritance.

Table V. Inheritance

  1. If a person dies without a male heir, his nearest male relative shall inherit his goods.

  1. If a person goes insane, he shall not have power over his goods and they shall be given to his nearest male relative.

Table VI. Property

  • If a female does not wish to be beaten by her husband should leave for three nights in a row each year in order to interrupt and end the marriage. This is essentially a divorce.

Table VII. Real Property

  1. If a person builds a road and it becomes unusable because of decay or damage, travelers may travel across the property wherever they wish and are not bound to use the road.

  1. If a neighbor’s tree grows into your land you may legally cut it down.

  2. If fruit falls from the tree than anyone can gather it.

Table VIII. Crimes

2. If a person injures another person physically, he will be injured in the same way unless he agrees to pay for damages.

3. If the theft has been done by night, if the owner kills the thief, the thief shall be held to be lawfully killed.

13. If it is day time and a thief comes to rob you it is unlawful to kill them unless they attack you with the weapon.

23. If a person builds a road and it becomes unusable because of decay or damage, travelers may travel across the property wherever they wish and are not bound to use the road.


Table IX. Constitutional Principles

  • A judge or legal official who is found guilty of taking a bribe shall be put to death.

Table X. Funeral Rights

1. The dead must be burned or buried outside of the city.

3. Women are not allowed to cry at funerals.

5. One is allowed to be buried with or bury his parents with a crown if he received it based on valor or honor.



Table XI. Marriage Laws

  • Marriages are forbidden between plebeians and patricians.

Table XII Punishments

  • If a slave commits theft or does damage it is not the master’s fault, even if the master knew about it.



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