Before the rise of Caďinas, the Caďinorians were divided into small baronies (calenit), in which the baron’s word was absolute, bounded only by custom. The baron (calenorion) might hear disputes between his subjects, but he decided as he liked, and there was no means of settling disputes between calenorionit except war.
The settled states along the Svetla, notably Kaino and Aránicer, but also the Scadrorion states from which Caďinas arose, were more influenced by Cuzeian law. While maintaining the idea that the ruler’s sovereignty was unlimited, there arose practical bodies of procedure for deciding the disputes of city dwellers: inheritances, marriage contracts, contracts, quarrels over land. The ruler might delegate the handling of such claims, often to temples. Priests would hear cases and make decisions in the name of the ruler and the gods.
The struggle against Munkhâsh militarized Caďinorian society. The army itself was closely organized, and elaborated rules of conduct and means of resolving conflict and punishing offenders. Other social institutions were considered from a military point of view: families were assigned quotas of soldiers, grain, or matériel to supply; temples were organized into a military-like chain of command; commerce was taxed to support the war. The king (elorion) was above all the commander of this vast military engine, and retained the traditional ruler’s right to order it in any way they wished.
The old calenorionit were long gone; as land was reconquered from the Munkhâshi it was awarded to successful generals. The military code governed these grants of land, and military courts settled disputes between landholders.
The conquest of Cuzei in 1024 brought new complications. The intention was to let Cuzeians live by their own law; but Cuzeian institutions— the King’s Council, the Glades— were foci of rebellion, and were eliminated. The organization of the aurē (Houses) broke down, and the communitarian aspects of Cuzeian law made no sense to the Caďinorians. Inevitably, the essentially military law of Caďinas was applied to “Eärdur province”, but vestiges of Cuzeian law remained.
In 1150 Keadau pushed the Munkhâshi from the last of Eretald, and named himself emperor (atrabion) in celebration. The war against Munkhâsh continued in the east, but Eretald itself enjoyed peace, and had time and effort to spare for building commerce and civil society.
The lack of a civil justice system began to be felt. Disputes could be heard in military courts, or by officers, but the army found this tedious, and the landholding class complained that officers did not understand life outside the army. The emperor Ponoborges (V. Pomborže), Keadau’s grandson, created a system of civilian courts (sudrit) starting in 1195, and his son Ceornactec (Sernažec) created the first law codes:
- The cadui dandie (the Laws of Settlements) covered property, including the related problems of inheritance and marriage contracts; ‘property’ largely concerned land, though subsections dealt with slaves and animals. These laws derived largely from the military code as it had developed for the administration of estates granted to veterans.
- The cadui iĥodomoi (the Sacred Laws) covered religious issues, including the governance and property of temples and seminaries, and the conduct of priests. These laws developed from the existing imperial supervision of Caďinorian paganism.
Operation of the courts
In the larger cities there were separate courts for the two branches of law, but in less settled areas the same courts (sudrit) applied both codes. The procedure was similar for both: a plaintiff brought his “quarrel” (litis) to the court; a judge (sudrion) heard the plaintiff and defendant, and issued a decision (sudrel) in the name of the Emperor. The judge was to rely on the written law, as well as his own judgment. There were no appeals, but under some circumstances a countersuit could be brought. Cases were normally decided in a few hours— if all litigants were present; there are many laws relating to summonses and the penalties for disobeying them, so it is evident that making sure all parties were present was a continual problem.
In the early imperial period both litigants were required to speak on their own behalf. Later they were allowed to send a relative, and later still any representative; this naturally created a class of professional advocates— procliťileit or spokesmen. Their training was not so much in law as in oratory, and they are routinely condemned in literature for pomposity and misrepresentation; they were prohibited more than once, and reintroduced under new loopholes.
Only pacified areas were administered by the civil courts; new conquests remained under military control. Normally, however, these would be transferred to civil administration after a century or two.
Law per se, the cadui, was only applied to disputes between citizens. The obligations of citizens to the state was a matter of spais, duty. There could be crime and punishment in this area too, but it was handled by a different mechanism, the curies or imperial court.
Since the emperor’s claims and powers were absolute, there was no question of disputing them or even defending oneself, nor was there any idea of citizens bringing petitions to the curies; the curies always summoned them. The official in charge, the curorion, was in charge of determining the facts of the case and issuing a judgment. There was a different verb for this in Caďinor: obrenir, to sit in judgment, as opposed to sudrir, to decide between litigants as a sudrion did.
Issues of taxation, military service, or other obligations to the empire were handled by the curet. This included obligations of city landholders (e.g., the owner of a building was required to maintain the pavement of the street in front of his building), and also covered contractors hired by imperial agencies.
What we would call crime was hardly a matter for law or even spais. Murderers or thieves were simply priges (wicked, vicious), and had no rights; they might be put to death by any authority— imperial officials, landholders, temple head priests, even heads of families. If there was any reasonable doubt about their guilt, they could be interrogated by a curorion, or by a priest.
As cities and commerce developed, there were more and more private disputes, most often arising from contracts. These might be settled through clans or by a priestly intermediary, but increasingly they were brought to the courts. The courtly principle was Kae precet atrabantan aldom— “Whoever appeals to the Empire is heard”. If there was no imperial statute that applied, the judge relied on amaraum, custom or tradition.
An example from Z.E. 1310 is found in the Caďinor grammar. A craftsmen, Opogaros, sent his daughter to work as a maidservant to a nobleman, who despoiled her. Opogaros first approached a priest, who worked out a compromise— the nobleman agreed to marry the girl. When the nobleman broke his pledge, Opogaros brought a lawsuit.
Because neither property nor slaves were involved, the cadui dandie did not apply. Instead the court ruled based on Caďinorian custom (amaraum): the nobleman had offended the customs of marriage as well as those of hospitality. (The fact that the nobleman lost is significant: where nobles had once been sovereign, they were now bound both by imperial law and by imperial custom.)
The Caďinorians liked to have everything written down; it was inevitable that amaraum was codified. This process was pushed along not by the emperors but by the leading courts, which started with manuals containing guidelines and principles for the use of judges. Cities, commercial partnerships, and family trusts might also write out their rules of conduct. In the 1500s the Ibro cumaldecie curiae Ctesifonei (Book of contracts of the court of Ctesifon), had become a standard; it covered contracts, rules of order, labor rules, even accounting procedures— essentially, everything that might arise in civil life that did not involve property, the military, or religion.
After conquering Munkhâsh, the emperor Ervëa began a thorough revision of the laws and courts of the empire. This was not completed until the reign of his son Ilďaneas, in 1708; it is therefore called the Code of the Crown Prince (Amaraum sadui).
The Code was divided into seven branches:
- The Convention of Duty (Amaraum spaii), covering civic obligations, taxation, and criminality
- The Prince's Sacred Laws (Cadui iĥodomoi sadui), covering all aspects of religion
- The Ruling of the Army (Nactel falaĥtae), covering military life and military-run estates or territories
- The Prince's Laws of Settlements (cadui dandie sadui), covering property (real estate, and slaves) and inheritance
- The Convention of Agreements (Amaraum cumaldecie), covering contracts as well as freedmen's labor
- The Convention of Ažirei (Amaraum Agireie); Ažirei was the goddess of the sea, and this code covered both sea and river trade
- The Convention of Clans (Amaraum tagieie), covering conflicts within and between families, including marriage, divorce, and adoption, as well as moveable property
The first three categories had their own courts, while the ordinary courts handled cases arising in any of the remaining categories. Some cases could now be appealed to the emperor; a new Curies Atrabantei (Emperor's Court) was established for these.
An office in the imperial bureaucracy, the Court of Probity (Curies gonicorecae), investigated the government's own doings, prosecuting corruption and other abuses. As with the Convention of Duty, cases were instigated only by the government, not by citizens; but famously, there was a drop box at the Court's palace in Ctesifon which could be used for denunciations.
A codified convention (amaraum) was not different, in practice, from a set of statutes (cadui); amaraum was increasingly used for any of the branches of the Prince’s Code, and then for the study or practice of law in general, while cadus continued to be used in the narrow meaning of “a law, a statute”. These words underlie Verdurian amrab and cazo respectively.
Principles of Caďinorian law
The Caďinorians had a horror of local variation. Conquered areas might be allowed to administer their own law for a time, but this always rankled, and eventually Caďinorian law would be applied to them. (Areas ruled by the military or by religious authorities followed their own law, however.) The satrandet or free cities, such as Aites and Aranicer, had the right to name their own judges, but not to make their own laws.
The emperor, and by extension his agents and courts, could do no wrong, and need never offer recompense for any harm they caused. Neither nobles nor temples were immune from his interference. Once a court accepted a case, its authority in investigation and punishment was absolute. Nonetheless, the emperors prided themselves on following their own laws, and convention frowned deeply on an emperor who took the rhetoric of absolutism as license for frivolity or misrule.
Neither judges nor advocates could practice without a thorough grounding in the law. Courses or mentoring by experienced jurists developed into institutes of law, notably the Fellowship of the Prince (Cumnodu sadui) in Ctesifon. Extensive commentaries were written on the Prince's Codes, and these also had to be mastered by students.
Famous cases were studied, but a judgment was supposed to rely on the law itself, or on accepted custom. That is, precedent in the Anglo-American sense could not be used. Supernatural evidence was also prohibited-- e.g. a man could not be convicted based on the words of an oracle, or on whether he passed an ordeal. The legal principle here was that indirect influence on a judge was beneath the gods' dignity. If they wanted to punish a man, they should simply strike him down.
Judges could take a very active role in the case, asking questions, even calling witnesses or sending out investigators to establish facts. They might also consult experts in the law. They also had a wide range of decisions available to them; they need not rule entirely for one litigant or the other. As there was no jury, there was no idea of inadmissible evidence, and indeed once a witness or an advocate appeared in court, he had a right to make his statement. All testimony and all sentences had to be given in public. There was no right of cross-examination per se, but either side could call the other’s witnesses, if they wished.
Few Caďinorian laws relied on intent, which was considered impossible to prove. Likewise, good intentions were no defense (and bad intentions did not exacerbate a crime).
The disruptions of the Dark Years quickly eroded the practice and principles of justice. Civil wars, the Red Cabal, the barbarian invasions all took their toll; corruption grew; trade and urban life declined. And finally, as Ctesifon's realm splintered, the unity of Caďinorian law disappeared.
At the height of the Dark Years, a typical state was the size of a Caďinorian province, but had little central authority; it was a patchwork of feudal lords, loosely tied together by oaths and family ties; the king was at best the strongest of these, and only his own estates could be counted on to fulfill his will. Few kings maintained law courts; they dispensed justice as any primitive monarch might, by periodically opening their doors to petitioners.
This sounds much like the European dark ages, but there is an important difference. In Europe, Germans took over the entire Western Roman Empire, influencing all of Europe with their own ancient legal traditions. There is nothing comparable in the history of Eretald: regions were conquered by barbarians, but the barbarian rulers were either kicked out again, or Caďinorized.
Thus no real alternative to Caďinorian law developed, and when classical learning was rediscovered, classical law was revived with it. Ironically, perhaps, the pioneer in this area was Kebri, which had only briefly been ruled by Caďinas, but which became a major power from about the 2600s. Part of its kings’ program for strengthening the state was to establish courts and a new law code, promulgated in 2743. It was based in part on local traditions, but these were primitive compared to Caďinorian law, which was studied closely by the codifiers. The new code was applied to Érenat, conquered by Kebri; when Érenat rebelled it did its own research into Caďinorian law and issued its own reformed code.
Caďinorian law, and the courts to enforce it, never entirely disappeared in either Verduria or Ctésifon, though at times it might hold sway only in the capital cities. In modern times both countries have revived and modernized their legal tradition, as described in the articles on Ctésifoni law and Verdurian law.