Adonis Diaries

Beirut: Wet Nurse of laws during Roman Empire. Part 1

Posted on: August 4, 2010

Beirut: Wet Nurse of laws during Roman Empire. Part 1

A brief history:  Between 150 and 551 AC, the city of Beirut (Beryte) was the official Roman State law center and this recognition extended to the Byzantium Empire.

Beirut had the preferred law school for law students and the professors flocked from the four corners of the Empire.  There were 6 other law centers such as the ones in Rome, Constantinople, Athens, Alexandria, Caesar of Cappadocia, and Caesar of Palestine, but Beirut kept her high standing over four centuries as the main official law center.

Beirut was called “Mother of laws” and “The most magnificent city” during the Roman Empire.  Emperor Justinian I (527-566) attributed to Beirut the title of “wet-nurse of laws

Between 150 and 551, Beirut was the official location for posting law articles and saving the Constitutions and compilations of laws.

Comparative law studies is the immediate successor of the roman laws that was initiated and updated in Beirut.  In the 5th century, Beirut law school started to teach in both languages of Latin and Greek.

Paradoxically, the main language of the common people was the written language Syriac (Aramaic,  the language spoken by Jesus).  Another demonstration that written languages are the domain of the elite classes, and used as coded language for administrations and government of people.

The Common people had to suffer the consequences of not knowing the language of their dominating Masters; in this case either Latin or Greek.

Rome fell in 476 and Western Europe had to wait until the Crusader’s campaigns (1096-1291) for the Justinian civil code of laws the “Digeste” to be found and rediscovered and then applied in Europe starting in the 12th century.

In 551, an earthquake demolished the city of Beirut.  The law school was temporarily moved to Sidon. In 560, as the professors returned to Beirut then a huge fire burned the city again.  Beirut was still in ruin by 600.

As Islam Arab conquered the near east region in 635, Beirut recaptured its previous status as a law center but without the brilliance of previous periods. Beirut was compiling Islamic laws according to “Charia”.

During the last 7 Omayyad caliphs and the first two Abbassid caliphs (690 to 770) the Lebanese theologians (ulema) and judges (fakihs and cadis) were the cornerstones for the nascent Islamic jurisprudence.  Imam El Uzahi (707-774) from Baalbek and who studied in Beirut and lived was the most brilliant and most sought after fakih in his life.  His doctrine was applied in Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria for 200 years.

Then, the doctrines of Hanafi (Syria), the Chafii (Egypt), the Maliki (Andalusia and Northern Africa  took the ascendency.

Note: The next chapters will give details on the most famous law professors in ancient Beirut and a few current updates.

2 Responses to "Beirut: Wet Nurse of laws during Roman Empire. Part 1"

[…] Part 1. Wet-nurse of laws: Beryte or Beirut of Lebanon […]

[…] Part 1. Wet-nurse of laws: Beryte or Beirut of Lebanon […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2010
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,441,593 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 784 other followers

%d bloggers like this: