Back to Imperial Laws and Letters

AD 313-364 (Constantine - Jovian)

AD 364-395 (Valentinian I – Theodosius I)

Date
Ancient
Source
C-N # Emperor(s) Summary of document
395

Mar 13

CT 16.2.25 249 Arcadius,

Honorius

Upon the death of Theodosius, Arcadius and Honorius have reviewed all laws passed with regard to heretics. They renew all punishments and penalties imposed on heretics. They rescind any concessions that have been made to any heretics. They re-condemn the Eunomians [who had been granted concessions on June 20, 394], and bar them from governmental service and from leaving or receiving an inheritance.
395

Mar 23

CT 16.2.29 250 Arcadius,

Honorius

All laws previously enacted to benefit the Christian clergy are to be upheld.
395

Mar 30

CT 16.5.26 251 Arcadius,

Honorius

Restatement of earlier laws: heretics may not assemble or appoint clergy.
395

July 3

CT 2.8.22 - Arcadius

Honorius

All are to be reminded of the previous law [no longer extant] in which all pagan festival days are declared non-holidays.
395

June 24

CT 16.5.27 252 Arcadius,

Honorius

Eunomians shall continue to be able to execute wills.

[June 24 or December 25. This repeals the previous law with regard to Eunomians.]

395

Aug 7

CT 16.10.13 253 Arcadius,

Honorius

No one is permitted to perform a pagan sacrifice. Everyone must hasten to obey the previously enacted laws about heretics and pagans. Governors and other officials who do not enforce this law will be punished and fined, and governors especially so. If members of the imperial staff are found disregarding this statue, they will face capital punishment.
395

Sept 3

CT 16.5.28 254 Arcadius,

Honorius

Anyone who disagrees with the catholic Christian Church even on a minor point of doctrine is considered a heretic. This law specifically names Heuresius.

[Heuresius was a bishop in the Diocese of Asia. Pharr conjectures that he was involved in the Luciferian schism, but Coleman-Norton says he is unidentifiable.]

395

Oct 11

CT 2.9.3 255 Arcadius,

Honorius

Anyone who fails to keep a contract which they swore in God’s name to keep will lose the said property and pay a penalty. Anyone who swears on a contract in the name of the emperor or his health must keep their contract or lose their property.
395

Nov 4

CT 16.5.29 256 Arcadius,

Honorius

Specifically directs Marcellus, the master of offices, to investigate whether any heretics are present in the imperial service. If so, they are to be removed from service and exiled outside of Constantinople.
396

Feb 5

CI 1.4.5 257 Arcadius,

Honorius

Local leaders and officials are not to be selected from the Alexandrian craft-guildsmen unless they are Christians.
396

Feb 28

CT 16.8.10 - Arcadius,

Honorius

No person outside of Judaism may set the prices for Jewish merchants. Those who do so are to be punished by local authorities.
396

Mar 3

CT 16.5.30 258 Arcadius,

Honorius

All heretical assembly places are to be confiscated, and heretics driven out of Constantinople. They are forbidden to enter the city for the purpose of gathering. If this occurs even in a private house, the penalty was a fine of 100 pounds of gold.

[Pharr conjectures that this law belongs to 402.]

396

Mar 23

CT 16.7.6 259 Arcadius,

Honorius

Christians who became guilty of idolatry are not allowed to bequeath property in their wills to anyone other than parents, siblings, children, or grandchildren.
396

Apr 21

CT 16.5.31-32 260 Arcadius,

Honorius

Eunomian authors and teachers are to be exiled from their municipalities. Their property and meeting places are to be confiscated.
396

Apr 24

CT 16.8.11 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Anyone who publicly makes insulting mention of the Illustrious patriarchs is subject to punishment.

[These patriarchs were Jewish leaders of the day, not the Biblical figures.]

396

Dec 7

CT 10.10.14 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Any privileges granted in ancient law to pagan priests and leaders are abolished. They cannot claim to have privileges, because their profession is now condemned.
397

Jan 31

CT 16.2.30 261 Arcadius,

Honorius

Privileges previously granted to the church [i.e. the clergy] shall remain in place.
397

Jan 31

CT 11.16.21 262 Arcadius,

Honorius

The privileges granted to churches, and especially to the church of Rome, are to be guarded.
397

Mar 17

CT 12.5.3 263 Arcadius,

Honorius

Governors may not ask some decurions to render compulsory public service twice before all have given it once.

[The religious significance of this law is one phrase which implies that some "sacred rites" initiate one into the municipal senate, which Coleman-Norton takes to be a Christian ceremony.]

397

Apr 1

CT 16.5.33 264 Arcadius,

Honorius

Apollinarians shall be exiled from Constantinople and those who assemble secretly shall have their meeting places confiscated.
398

June 12

CT 11.16.22 265 Arcadius,

Honorius

Anyone who attempts to take away the privileges previously granted to the clergy will be punished.
397

June 17

CT 9.45.2 266 Arcadius,

Honorius

Jews who feign a desire to join the church in order to escape debts must first repay their debts.
397

June 17

CT 16.8.12 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Jews are not to be harassed or attacked; governors are to maintain the synagogues’ tranquility.
397

July 1

CT 16.8.13 267 Arcadius,

Honorius

Jewish clergy are allowed to retain their own laws and rituals and are exempt from service as in municipal senates. They are to have the same privileges as Christian clergy.
398

Mar 6

CT 16.5.53 330 [Arcadius,]

[Honorius]

Jovinianus, a heretic condemned at Rome and Milan, who had been holding unlawful meetings outside the walls of the city (Milan?), is to be arrested, beaten with a leaden whip, and exiled to the island of Boa. His companions likewise are to be exiled.

[The addressee, Felix, was known to be in Rome in 398, and Jovinianus was condemned in 390; For these reasons the codex's date is suspect, and both Coleman-Norton and Pharr prefer 398. The Codex lists the year as 412 and the Augusti as Honorius and Theodosius II. ]

398

Mar 4

CT 16.5.34 268 Arcadius,

Honorius

Eunomians and Montanists are to be expelled from the cities, and if they reside in the country and should hold assemblies, they are to be deported and the owners of the land they inhabited punished. Heretical books are to be destroyed. Those who refuse to surrender such books are to suffer capital punishment on the charge of sorcery.
398

July 26

CT 16.2.32 269 Arcadius,

Honorius

If bishops should need more clerics, they should ordain new priests from the orders of monks. They should not seek them from men of rank who need to perform public services.
398

July 27

CT 16.2.33 270 Arcadius,

Honorius

Clergy shall be ordained and serve from their own villages or other localities, and under supervision of the bishop, a set number of clergy shall be determined for each church.
398

July 27

CI 1.4.7 271 Arcadius,

Honorius

A bishop may serve as judge in a legal case only if both parties agree to it.
398

July 27

CT 9.40.16 272 Arcadius,

Honorius

Bishops are given restricted rights to appeal on behalf of convicted criminals. Only in humanitarian cases, when there is sufficient evidence and the time for appeal is not run out may they assist in making an appeal.
398

July 27

CT 9.45.3 273 Arcadius,

Honorius

If the clergy refuse to surrender someone who has fled to church to escape his debts, they shall be responsible for paying his debts.
399

Apr 11

CT 16.8.14 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Recently, the Jewish leaders sent emissaries to collect a tax from all the Jewish communities. Revenue collected by the Jewish patriarch in this way is instead to be sent to the imperial treasury.
399

May 8

CT 13.1.16 274 Arcadius,

Honorius

The services of shrewdness and religion are distinct. Therefore, anyone engaged in trade while enjoying clerical exemptions shall speedily either leave the clergy or leave his trade.
399

May 17

CT 16.5.35 275 Arcadius,

Honorius

The Manichaeans, who have already been condemned, shall be found, restrained, and punished.

[This was directed to the proconsul of North Africa.]

399

June 25

CT 16.2.34 276 Arcadius,

Honorius

The Church shall not have its privileges violated; any authority who impedes by either attacking or neglecting the Church shall be fined.
399

July 6

CT 16.5.36 277 Arcadius,

Honorius

Eunomians are allowed to grant goods from their own property and to receive property. However, they still may not assemble, and if any of their bishops are found at a gathering, the bishops are to be deported and their goods confiscated.
399

July 10

CT 16.10.16 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Pagan temples in rural areas are to be torn down without disturbance.
399

Aug 20

CT 16.11.1 278 Arcadius,

Honorius

Bishops must preside over cases regarding religion. Provincial governors hear cases of secular law.
399

Aug 20

CT 16.10.17 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Despite the abolishment of pagan sacrifices, public festivals and celebrations are allowed. They simply may not contain pagan superstition or sacrifices.
399

Aug 20

CT 16.10.18 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Temples not containing illegal objects [such as statues and altars] may not be destroyed. Idols shall still be taken down and those performing sacrifices punished according to law.
399

Aug 27

CT 2.8.23 279 Arcadius,

Honorius

No theatrical plays, horse races, or other effeminizing spectacles may be held on the Lord’s day (Sunday). However, the emperor’s birthday will be celebrated when it falls on the Lord’s day (Sunday).
399

Aug 29

CT 16.10.15 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Ornaments of public buildings are not to be destroyed. No one may use previous laws as a pretext for destroying public buildings.

Anyone who displays unauthorized public transportation passes must deliver them to the emperors. The granters will be fined.

[Either January or August 29.]

399

Dec 11

CT 12.1.163 280 Arcadius,

Honorius

Any bishop who left his position in the municipal senate after 388 must either find a substitute to fulfill his senatorial obligations or must surrender his patrimony. Lower clergy must return to the senates.
401

July 14

CT 16.2.36 282 Arcadius,

Honorius

Clergy buying and selling food within legal limitations are exempted from paying taxes on that enterprise. They shall also be exempt from compulsory public service.
404

Feb 3

CT 16.8.15 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Privileges previously granted Jewish patriarchs are to be upheld.
404

Apr 22

CT 16.8.16 - Arcadius,

Honorius

Jews and Samaritans enrolled as members of the secret service are hereby deprived of employment with the imperial service.
404

July 25

CT 16.8.17 - Arcadius,

Honorius

An earlier law forbidding the Jewish patriarchs from collecting their own taxes is repealed.

[Repeals 16.8.14 of April 11, 399.]

404

Jan 29

CT 16.4.4 283 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Office staff shall abstain from tumultuous public gatherings, and those who violate the Emperor’s will may lose their office and pay a fine.

[Because the date coincides with John Chrysostom's problems, and this law is found in a section dealing with religion, it is assumed that the gatherings in question are related to the church.]

404 Palladius, Dialogus de Vita 284 Arcadius Anyone not in communion with Theophilus of Alexandria is to be excluded from the episcopate and all his money and goods are to be confiscated.

[This was directed against John Chrysostom and his followers.]

404

Aug 29

CT 16.2.37 285 Arcadius,

Honorius

Bishops from outside Constantinople shall not serve there. Clergy who had been in prison after the riot [according to Pharr's footnote, caused by John Chrysostom] are to be released and returned to their homes since the arsonists could not be found.
404

Sept 11

CT 16.4.5 286 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Slaves may not participate in tumultuous public gatherings. Their masters will be fined if they are found disobedient. Money changers must also follow this rule.
404

Nov 18

CT 16.4.6 287 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Any Christian assemblies out of communion with the bishops of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria are forbidden.
405

Feb 4

CS 2CT 16.2.35 288 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

If a deposed bishop raises trouble or attempts to continue in his position, he must be exiled over 100 miles from his former see. He may not continue meeting with those from his former diocese.

[CS gives the year 405, while the CT gives the year 400. ]

405

Feb 4

CT 2.8.24 281 Arcadius,

Honorius

There may be no spectacles [horse races, theatrical plays, etc.] in the seven days of Quadragesima, on the seven Paschal days, on the birthday and on Epiphany.

[The birthday mentioned seems to be Christmas, and not the emperor's birthday, but it only says "the birthday." Pharr suggests moving this to 405. The text actually gives the year 400]

405

Feb 12

CT 16.6.3-5 289-91 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Anyone who performs rebaptism will have his property confiscated unless, for the sake of his children, he returns to the catholic Church. Places where rebaptisms were performed will be confiscated. Re-baptizers may not make contracts or leave wills. Slaves forced into rebaptism will be protected by the catholic Church and allowed to leave Donatist masters.
405

Feb 12

CT 16.5.38 292 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

No one should recall to memory a Manichaean or a Donatist. Worship shall be uniform, and all shall recognize the Trinity. There shall be one understanding of salvation. Those who participate in unauthorized religious practices or join in uproarious mobs shall be punished with “a sharper goad of irritation.”
405

Feb 25

CT 16.5.37 293 Arcadius,

Honorius

The rescript of Julian, which gave Donatists freedom of worship, is repealed.

[See Coleman-Norton # 120.]

405

Mar 5

CT 16.11.2 294 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

The edict of Feb.12, 405 (CT 16.5.38), which had originally been circulated in Africa, is now to circulate widely.
405

Dec 8

CT 15.5.39 296 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Donatists shall be punished without delay if they confess or if they have been convicted.
406 Palladius, Dialogus de Vita 297 Arcadius Any bishop out of communion with the bishops of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria [the supporters of John Chrysostom are intended] will be expelled from the church and have his property confiscated.
406

June 27

CT 15.1.44 - Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

If repairs are necessary on a building, permission is granted to remove images of the emperors without prior consultation, so long as they are restored as soon as the repairs are finished.
407

Feb 22

CT 16.5.40 298 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Manichaeans, Phrygians, and Priscillianists are signaled out as heretics. Their beliefs are considered public crimes on the grounds that crime against religion is detrimental to all. They may not give gifts in their wills, make contracts, or buy and sell. Their slaves may leave them. Their children are not allowed to inherit from them unless they renounce such heresy. Provincial governors will be fined if they fail to punish those convicted of these heresies.
407

Nov 15

CT 16.5.41 299 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Donatists and Manichaeans may have their crimes forgiven if they renounce their beliefs and embrace the catholic faith and practices.
407

Nov 15

CT 16.2.38 300 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Rights sought by the church through lawyers or representatives rather than through clergy shall be effected. Privileges already held by the church shall remain in effect.
407

Nov 15

CT 16.5.43 - Honorius, Theodosius II Laws against Donatists, Montenses, Manichaeans, and Priscillianists remain in place. Their buildings as well as those of the Caelicolists are to be taken and given to the churches.
407

Nov 15

CT 16.10.19 - Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Income from taxes which had been given to pagan temples shall be redirected for soldiers. Images in pagan temples must be removed if there is any veneration of them. All pagan altars must be torn down. Public, secular use is to be made of the temples. Banquets shall not be permitted for sacrilegious rites.
408

June 5

CS 12 301 Honorius, Theodosius II Laws in place against Donatists, Manichaeans, and other groups remain effective. Prosecution against them must continue vigorously. Also, Income from taxes in kind shall be redirected from pagan temples to support the army.

[Given Nov. 25, 407, posted in Carthage on the date given to the left.]

408

Apr 27

CT 9.35.7 302 Honorius, Theodosius II Though a previous law had suspended criminal trials during Lent and Easter [March 27, 308, CT 9.35.4], an exception is made for the trials of Isaurian bandits, so that information may be extracted from them by torture.
408

May 29

CT 16.8.18 303 Honorius, Theodosius II Jews may not burn crosses at the feast of Purim, and shall loose their rights if they disobey the law. They must keep their customs in a way that does not offend Christians.

[The primary purpose of burning the cross was probably not to insult Christians, but to remember the death of Haman in the book of Esther, which was commemorated at Purim.]

408

Nov 14

CT 16.5.42 304 Honorius, Theodosius II Persons who disagree with the Emperor on matters of religion are not be allowed to serve in the palace or any imperial post.
408

Nov 24

CT 16.5.44 305 Honorius, Theodosius II Donatists, Jews, and heretics have been disturbing the catholic sacraments. Therefore, it is forbidden “to attempt anything that is contrary and opposed” to the catholic sect.
408

Nov 27

CT 16.5.45 306 Honorius, Theodosius II Municipalities and decurions are ordered to ensure that any priests who dissent from their bishops do not convene unlawfully, and if they do, their meeting places shall go over to public ownership.
408

Nov 27

CS 9 307 Arcadius,

Honorius

Those who leave the clergy must return to serve in the municipal councils or guilds where they originally served.
408

Nov 27

CT 16.2.39 - Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

Clergy who have left the priesthood, either voluntarily or through the order of the bishop, shall not be allowed to freely return to the clergy. He shall be placed either in the municipal senate or a guild. He shall be subject to compulsory public services.
408

Dec 17

CS 16 308 Honorius Among other legislation dealing with freeing prisoners of war, Honorius encourages Christian clergy to advocate for returned prisoners.
408

Dec 13

CT 1.27.2 309 Arcadius,

Honorius,

Theodosius II

If two parties have chosen to have their cases heard before bishops, the verdict is unappealable. The governors will be in charge of execution of the verdict.
409

Jan 15

CS 14

CT 16.2.31

CT 16.5.46

310 Honorius, Theodosius II Directed towards the situation in North Africa – Persons who have committed crimes and outrages against bishops in Africa are to be prosecuted. The governors in Africa need to seek them out, prosecute them, and confiscate their property. If crimes were committed by a multitude, at least some names need to be found. Outrages against catholic bishops merit capital punishment.

Also – laws against Jews and pagans are in force, which prevent them from disturbing the catholic Church.

409

Jan 21

CI 1.55.8 311 Honorius,

Theodosius II

Only orthodox Christians may be appointed as defender of the city, with the bishop and clergy joining the distinguished citizens, rentiers, and curials in making the appointment.
409

Jan 25

CT 9.3.7 312 Honorius,

Theodosius II

On Sundays, governors should see to the care of prisoners, providing food and a bath, and personally examining their condition. 20 pounds of gold is the fine for breaking this law. Bishops should encourage governors not to neglect this law.
409

Feb 1

CT 9.16.12 313 Honorius,

Theodosius II

All astrologers are to be expelled and exiled, unless they burn their books in the presence of a bishop and convert to Christianity.
409

Feb 28

CI 1.3.16 314 Honorius,

Theodosius II

If the owner of the land on which an aspirant to the clerical office lives and works is unwilling to have him join the clergy, the man may still join the clergy if he pays the poll tax and finds a substitute for his services on the land.
409

Feb 29

CT 15.9.2 - Honorius,

Theodosius II

The amount of money spent on public games is limited.
409

Apr 1

CT 16.8.19 315 Honorius, Theodosius II Caelicolists are to return to orthodox Christianity within one year of this order. The law is repeated that Christians may not be made to convert to Judaism. Breaking this second law is tantamount to treason
409

Apr 1

CT 2.8.25 316 Honorius,

Theodosius II

No amusements of any type may be held on the Lord’s day (Sunday), not even New Year’s day or the emperor’s birthday or anniversary.

[In previous laws, e.g. Aug 27, 399, the emperors' birthdays and anniversaries were the two exceptions to the rule that no amusements could take place on Sunday.]

409

June 26

CT 16.5.47 317 Honorius, Theodosius II Any governmental official who appeals on behalf of a heretical group automatically has his petition denied, even without a reply from the emperor.
409

June 26

CT 2.4.7 318 Honorius, Theodosius II Whenever an ecclesiastical case is brought before a civil court, the case must not be delayed, but dealt with swiftly.
409

Aug 21

CI 1.2.4 319 Honorius, Theodosius II There may be no more than 950 corpse-bearers in Constantinople, and after that, no more may be added, even by replacement. Later legislation can re-assess the situation if there is a need for more corpse-bearers.

[On Feb. 6, 356, ecclesiastical grave diggers were exempted from paying the standard tradesmen's tax. That legislation, or something similar, seems to have caused the super-abundance of corpse-bearers.]

410

Feb 21

CT 16.5.48 320 Honorius, Theodosius II Montanists, Priscillians, and other heretical groups may not be admitted into imperial service. However, to avoid having people join heretical groups in order to avoid public service and taxation, curials and municipal senates may appoint members from heretical groups, who will then be expected to fulfill compulsory public services and functions. If they are already obligated to the service by birth or another reason, they shall not be exempted.
410

Mar 1

CT 16.5.49-50 321 Honorius, Theodosius II (49) Earlier laws against the Eunomians remain in force. They may not inherit or bequeath goods except to family. If no family exists, the goods become government property. The confiscated treasure should be sent to Constantinople unless there is a compelling reason to use it locally for the public utility. (50) The office staff of the imperial estates should know that it will be to their own peril if they should allow this property to pass to someone else, rather than confiscate it for the state.

[Arcadius had enacted similar measures against Eunomians (March 13, 395), but had later rescinded them (July 6, 399).]

410

May 24

CT 12.1.172 322 Honorius, Theodosius II Previous laws have excused clergy from completing municipal services. But that legislation is voided, and anyone born into a situation which owes municipal service must fulfill it. Current clergy may either return to fulfill their services or surrender their patrimonies to the municipal senate. Also, no one who has voluntarily joined the municipal senate may leave it.
410

Aug 26

CT 16.5.51 323 Honorius, Theodosius II All “enemies of the sacred law” shall be punished by proscription and blood if they continue to publicly assemble.
410

Oct 14

CT 16.11.3 - Honorius, Theodosius II The “new superstition” is abolished and laws regarding the Catholic faith remain in place and are to be enforced.

[Pharr takes this as a veiled reference to Donatism, presumably connecting it to the following document.]

410 Proceedings of the Council of Carthage 324 Honorius, Theodosius II Laws formerly enacted against Donatists are upheld. The emperors grant the request of a delegation of catholics, and are summoning a council to meet in Carthage under the supervision of Marcelline. The Donatists should be reconciled within four months.

[Found in PL 11.1260-60.]

411 Proceedings of the Council of Carthage 325 Marcelline on behalf of Honorius Marcelline summons the catholic and Donatist bishops to Carthage on June 1. This announcement is to be sent even to the countryside, and anyone whose church has been taken away from him will have it restored if he agrees to attend. Marcelline offers to appoint a second judge if the Donatists are not satisfied with him. He promises to give a fair and thorough investigation to the Donatists, and offers them imperial protection from harm. Donatists shall have the right to bring before him any complaints.

[Found in PL 11.1261-63]

411 Proceedings of the Council of Carthage 326 Marcelline on behalf of Honorius Each side of the debate shall have no more than 7 public representatives to express what each side has agreed upon in pre-consular meetings. Each of the public debaters may have a silent assistant. A crowd must not gather at the council’s site, but each side should pray quietly in their own churches, and only the assigned representatives should appear at the council. Minutes from the council will be carefully kept and published. No unsubstantiated or false charges are to be made. In addition to the imperial stenographers, four representatives from each side will serve as notaries, and four bishops from each side will supervise them. They will agree on a clear copy to be published, which can then be taken to the people outside. Each days’ proceedings shall be reviewed and signed on the following day, and then it will be sealed by Marcelline and his eight guardians. The representatives must send signed letters to Marcelline before the council, indicating that they agree to and will abide by the proceedings he has set forth. [found in PL 11.1263-66.]
411

June 24

CS 11

CT 16.2.40

327 Honorius, Theodosius II Compulsory public services and taxes shall not be required of church-owned properties.
411

June 26

Proceedings of the Council of Carthage 328 Marcelline on behalf of Honorius Having ruled in favor of the catholics at the council of Carthage, he now commands that all Donatists meetings cease, and that they be actively stopped by local senates, overseers, and other authorities. They are given one final chance to return to the catholic Church, but if they do not, they will suffer the consequences prescribed by law. Any place which harbors Circumcellions in particular will be confiscated. The proceedings of the council of Carthage are publicly available for anyone dissatisfied with this ruling. This decree is to be posted.
412

Jan 30

CT 16.5.52 329 Honorius, Theodosius II Clergy and laymen of the Donatists shall have to pay fines unless they return to the catholic Church. Procurators are obligated to deliver the Donatists, lest their estates be taken. Slaves and tenant farmers shall be recalled to the catholic faith by frequent flogging. Donatist priests, clerics and ministers shall be removed from Africa, and their meeting places ceded to the catholic Church.
412

Mar 19

CT 5.9.2 331 Honorius, Theodosius II No one who has abandoned his or her children may reclaim them if they are taken in by the church. A bishop’s signature is the necessary witness that the Church has taken the child in.
412

July 26

CT 16.8.20

CT 2.8.26

CI 1.9.13

332 Honorius, Theodosius II No Jew may be compelled to fulfill a compulsory public service or to appear in court for a legal case on the Sabbath or any other Jewish. All matters with them must be completed Monday-Friday. Jewish synagogues may not be taken by non-Jews, and Jewish observation of the Sabbath is to be protected. Likewise, Jews must not summon Christians to court on Christian holidays.
412 or 418

Aug 6

CT 16.8.21 333 Honorius, Theodosius II Jews may not be persecuted for their religion or have their property taken without cause. They are cautioned, however, that they may not disrespect Christianity.

[Pharr's footnote also lists 418 and 420.]

412

Dec 11

CS 15

CT 16.2.41

334 Honorius, Theodosius II Clergy may not be prosecuted except before a bishop. Anyone who brings un-provable accusations against a clergyman shall face loss of reputation and status
413

Mar 21

CT 16.6.6 335 Honorius, Theodosius II Rebaptism is forbidden. Both the person who baptized and the person receiving rebaptism, if he is of age, are considered guilty.

Novatians are to celebrate Easter at the same time as orthodox Christians.

413

Mar 29

CT 16.6.7 336 Honorius, Theodosius II Assemblies and funeral activities of Eunomians are banned, as are their repeat baptism practices. Anyone who is a cleric in their sect or allows them to meet in his home shall lose his property.
414

June 17

CT 16.5.54 337 Honorius, Theodosius II Donatists are to lose their property. They have no power for making wills, receiving inheritances or public assembly. Donatist bishops, priests, and other leaders are to be exiled to separate places. Possessions of Donatists shall go to the public fisc, and churches of Donatists and heretics are to be given to the catholic Church. Patrimony shall be taken from anyone harboring heretics. Senators who are Donatists are to be fined. Judges shall likewise be fined. Governing officials shall be fined, and if they persist, fined, lashed, and exiled. Tenant farmers and slaves will be lashed out of Donatism.
414

Aug 30

CT 16.5.55 338 Honorius, Theodosius II Legal investigations and proceedings against Donatists by Marcelline shall enter the public record and remain valid.

[Marcelline was a tribune in North Africa who presided over the Council of Carthage in 411 but was executed on trumped-up charges at the instigation of Donatists in 413 according to Jerome and Augustine. See laws in connection with Carthage above. ]

415

Aug 25

CT 16.5.56 339 Honorius, Theodosius II Those who publicly assemble to practice heretical rites may have their property taken and be executed.

[Addressed to North Africa, this may have in mind the Donatists, but see below.]

415

Aug 30

CT 16.10.20 340 Honorius, Theodosius II Pagan priests North Africa must abandon metropolitan cities and return to their ancestral cities before the kalends of November, otherwise they will be punished. Throughout the empire, any place that was formerly devoted to paganism shall be given to the church. If anything leads men to worship the pagan gods, it should be removed. Chiliarchs and Centenarii [pagan officials] are forbidden, and subject to capital punishment.
415

Oct 20

CT 16.8.22 341 Honorius, Theodosius II An honorary prefect, Gamaliel, shall be deprived of rank and may neither establish synagogues. If there are disturbance between Jews and Christians, they shall be resolved by the local governors. No Jews may convert Christians or hold Christians slaves.
415

Oct 31

CT 16.5.57 342 Honorius, Theodosius II Montanists may not hold meetings or assemblies. Any land-owner receiving them will have his property taken. Any manager who receives them without permission will be exiled. Montanist meeting places, but not personal private property, are to be added to orthodox churches.
415

Nov 6

CT 15.5.58 343 Honorius, Theodosius II If it is determined that repeated baptism or secret assemblies have been held in the houses of Eunomian clerics, the houses shall be confiscated. Eunomians may not leave property or receive wills. Anyone who performs re-baptisms will be exiled.
415

Nov 6

CT 16.9.3 344 Honorius, Theodosius II Jews are allowed to hold Christian slaves provided that the slaves are allowed to retain their Christianity.
415

Dec 3

CT 11.24.6 345 Honorius, Theodosius II [this is a long law dealing with property, but the following is included in it:] When property is given to a great church such as Alexandria or Constantinople for the purpose of tax evasion, the church may keep the property, but must continue to pay the necessary taxes.
416

Sept 24

CT 16.8.23 346 Honorius, Theodosius II Some Jews have joined the church in order to avoid punishments for crimes or other duties. They should be permitted to return to Judaism, where they can fulfill whatever obligation they owe.
416

Sept 29

CT 16.2.42 347 Honorius, Theodosius II Clerics shall have nothing to do with municipal councils or public affairs. The number of attendants of the sick is limited to 500, and they must be chosen from the lower classes and approved by the prefect. Attendants of the sick may not attend public spectacles, and may only appear in court in connection with a personal case. The prefect may assign the replacements when an attendant to the sick dies.
416

Dec 7

CT 10.10.21 - Honorius, Theodosius II Pagans shall not become administrators or judges. In fact, they may not enter the imperial service at all.
417

Apr 10

CT 16.9.4 348 Honorius, Theodosius II Jews may not purchase or receive as gifts Christian slaves. Jews may retain slaves who were already Christian or who came under an inheritance. But proselytizing Christians is a capital offense.
418

Feb 3

CT 16.2.43 349 Honorius, Theodosius II The number of clergy who are allowed to attend to the sick in Alexandria is increased from 500 to 600. They are to be chosen by the Bishop of Alexandria.

[This alteration of the law made September 29, 416 came about by the petitioning of Cyril of Alexandria.]

418

Mar 10

CT 16.8.24 - Honorius, Theodosius II Jews may not enter imperial service. Jews who have already taken the oath for service may remain, except those in the armed service. Jews are not prohibited from becoming advocates or decurions.
418

Apr 13

Codex Canonum 350-351 Honorius, Theodosius II After reproving the doctrines of Pelagius and Caelestius, Honorius expells them from the city, and orders confiscation of property and exile for their followers.

[found in the Codex Canonum Ecclesiasticorum Et Constitutorum Sanctae Sedis Apostolica, PL vol. 56, coll. 490-93. A general letter and a specific order to the prefect are preserved.]

419

before and just after Easter

Collectio Avellana 15-36. CSEL vol. 35, pp. 60-82 352-367 Honorius Several documents contained in the Collectio Avellana describe the tumultuous events in Rome in 419. Rival bishops were elected at the death of Zosimus, and the emperor supported first one and then the other. He summons each side to his court in Ravenna, then summons a council to deal with the problem. The council banishes both claimants. Honorius then installs a temporary bishop to hold Easter services. He then summons a council of African bishops at Spoleto to judge the matter. Finally, Boniface is made the official bishop, restricts the followers of Eulalias, and cancels the African council.
419

May 18

CS 5 - Honorius, Theodosius II Foundlings (abandoned children) shall be the property of those who acquired them.
419

June 9

Augustine, Ep. 201 368 Honorius,

Theodosius II

Anyone who hides a Pelagian will suffer the same penalties as a Pelagian. St. Augustine is authorized to publicize the penalties for Pelagians.
419

Sept 24

CT 9.40.24 369 Honorius,

Theodosius II

The emperors had decreed capital punishment for anyone who taught the barbarians how to build ships, but thanks to the intercession of the bishop of Chersonesus, former transgression are forgiven, though the punishment still awaits future transgressors.
419

Nov 21

CS 13 370 Honorius, Theodosius II For persons seeking sanctuary in a church, the zone of protection shall extend fifty paces from the church. Priests are allowed to enter prisons and visit prisoners. They are also allowed to advocate before judges on behalf of prisoners if justice has not been done.
420 Collectio Avellana, CSEL 35.83-84 371 Honorius In a contested papal election, neither side wins, but the election must be re-held.
420

May 8

CS 10

CT 16.2.44

372 Honorius, Theodosius II Clergy may not live with women other than wives whom they married before entering the priesthood, or their mothers, sisters, or daughters. Married clergy may not separate from their wives. Also, anyone who rapes a consecrated virgin is to have his property confiscated and to be deported.
421 Codex Canonum… 373- 374 Constantius III All heretics, who should have already been deported, are now to be expelled from coming within 100 miles of Rome. Caelestius especially is to be removed, so that peace can return to the city.

[found in the Codex Canonum Ecclesiasticorum Et Constitutorum Sanctae Sedis Apostolica, PL vol. 56, coll. 499-500.]

421

July

CT 16.2.45 375 Honorius, Theodosius II Religious laws passed in Illyricum remain in place. Any legal questions must come before the bishops and with the knowledge of the bishop of Constantinople. After a request from Pope Boniface, this law was rescinded.

[The issue was whether Illyricum should be under the jurisdiction of Rome or Constantinople, and despite this law, it remained under control of Rome until 484.]

423

Feb 15

CT 16.8.25 376 Honorius, Theodosius II Jewish synagogues and property may not be taken for ecclesiastical purposes or burned. If such an incident does occur, they will be compensated. However, they may not build new synagogues.
423

Mar 15

CT 15.3.6 377 Honorius, Theodosius II Clergy are no longer exempted from contributing to public roads or bridges.
423

Apr 9

CT 16.8.26 378 Honorius, Theodosius II All previous laws against Jews, heretics, and pagans are upheld. Jews are protected from attacks by people acting in the name of Christianity. Jews still may not circumcise Christians, and will have their property confiscated and be exiled if they do.
423

Apr 9

CT 16.9.5 379 Honorius, Theodosius II Jews shall not hold Christian slaves on the grounds that religious slaves shall not be subject to impious owners.

[Similar laws had previously been passed and rescinded.]

423

Apr 9

CT 16.10.22 - Honorius, Theodosius II Previous laws against pagans are upheld.
423

Apr 9

CT 16.5.59 380 Honorius, Theodosius II Repeats that this constitution denies privileges to Arians, Novatians, Eunomians, Macedonians, Sabbatians and other heretics.
423

June 8

CT 16.5.60 381 Honorius, Theodosius II Government officials are ordered to carry out previous legislation against Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians, and other condemned sects.
423

June 8

CT 16.10.24 382 Honorius, Theodosius II Manichaeans, Pepyzites, and those who do disagree as to the day of Easter may have their property taken and be sent into exile. But Christians may not attack or plunder Jews or pagans. They must pay back three times as much as what they took from an innocent pagan or Jew.
423

June 8

CT 16.10.23 - Honorius, Theodosius II Pagans are to be exiled and have their possessions confiscated.
423

June 8

CT 16.8.27 - Honorius, Theodosius II Jews may not construct new synagogues, but old ones will not be torn down. Other prohibitions are upheld.
423

Aug 8

CT 16.5.61 383 Honorius, Theodosius II The law that Eunomians are not allowed in the imperial service may not be applied to cohortalines.
424

Oct 10

CT 11.1.33 384 Theodosius II The church in Thessalonica is granted immunity from the poll tax, provided this law is not taken advantage of.
425

Feb 1

CT 15.5.5 385 Theodosius II, Valentinian III All theatres and circuses are to be closed on all Lord’s Days (Sunday), Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost, when the baptismal vestments are still being worn, and when the Apostolic Passion is celebrated. All Jews and pagans must respect these days. No spectacles in honor of the emperor are to take precedence over worship of God. Rather, the emperors are best shown devotion when the entire empire worships the omnipotent God.
425

May 5

CT 15.4.1. 386 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Whenever statues of the emperors are erected, the local government official shall be present, without vainglorious adulation. Whenever the images are shown at plays or games, respect shall be given, but not matching what is reserved for the Deity.
425

Aug 6

CS 6

CT 16.2.47

CT 16.5.64

CT 16.5.62

387- 388 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Clerical legal action must be done before a bishop rather than a secular judge. Bishops who have been led astray into Pelagianism have 20 days to reform or be exiled from Gaul. Manichaeans and heretical sects are exiled from the cities. Jews and pagans may not bring cases before the imperial service, and may not hold Christian slaves.

[Each record of the law gives a different date, but Coleman-Norton prefers August.]

425

Aug 4

CT 16.5.63 389 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Confiscation is the punishment for heresy, perfidy, schism, pagan superstition, or other errors hostile to the catholic faith.
425

July 6

CT 16.2.46 390 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Upholds previous protections and privileges granted to the Church and clergy.

[July 6 or August 4.]

426

Apr 7

CT 16.7.7 391 Theodosius II, Valentinian III There is no statue of limitations for investigating apostates in the matter of their wills. They may not give a testament, and their goods must be given to kinsmen, preferably Christians. Also, gifts and testaments will be rescinded for those who made sacrifices after becoming Christians.
426

Apr 8

CT 16.8.28 392 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Jewish or Samaritan parents and grandparents may not write their children out of their wills if the children convert to Christianity. If this has already happened, they may inherit some of the slaves freed by their parent or grandparent’s will. If the children can be shown to have committed some crime against the parent, they shall still receive 1/4 of their inheritance.
427

May 21

CI 1.8.1 393 Theodosius II, Valentinian III No one may draw or carve a cross on a millstone, or on the ground, or on marbles on the ground. If such are found, they are to be removed.

[The alternative year given is 447.]

428

Apr 21

CT 15.8.2 394 Theodosius II, Valentinian III If a father forces his daughter or a master forces his slave to a life of prostitution, the poor girls are freed from the man, and the man is punished by being sent to work in the mines. Bishops may intercede in such a case.
428

May 30

CT 16.5.65 395 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Churches taken by heretics from the orthodox are to be returned to the catholic church. If clergy should be created by heretics, both the cleric and the person who appointed him are to be fined.

Because not all should be punished in like manner, Arians, Macedonians, and Apollinarians, who have incorrect views about Christ, will not be permitted to have any church buildings, while Novatians and Sabbatians may not construct new churches. Eunomians, Valentinians, Montanists, Priscillians, Phrygians, Marcionites, Borborians, Messalians, Euchitans or Enthusiasts, Donatists, Audians, Hydroparastatans, Tascodrogitans, Photinians, Paulianists, Marcellians, and Manichaeans are forbidden to hold public assemblies and prayer. Manichaeans are to be expelled from the cities.

Such people are forbidden from all governmental services except that they may be cohortalines in the provinces and military.

Previous laws against heretics are upheld. This includes laws which limited their ability to leave or receive an inheritance or to serve in the government. They may not convert or proselytize others, including their own slaves. Any governor who fails to exile someone who has broken these laws will himself suffer the due punishment.

429 CT 16.8.29 - Theodosius II, Valentinian III Annual tribute is to be collected from rulers of Jewish synagogues.
429 Pitra, 2.556 396 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Anyone who converts an orthodox Christian from the catholic Church to another religion or heretical sect will have his property confiscated and be executed.
430

Nov 19

Mansi, vol. 4, 1112-16 397 Theodosius II, Valentinian III This letter summons a council to meet in Ephesus by Pentecost of 431 to resolve the positions held by Nestorius and opposed by Cyril of Alexandria. Neither side is permitted any theological innovation until the council is held. No bishops are permitted to opt out of attendance.
430 Mansi, vol. 4, 1109-12 398 Theodosius II, Valentinian III This letter to Cyril of Alexandria accuses him of instigating much of the controversy and of trying to divide the royal family in his letters to Eudocia and Pulcheria, the wife and sister of Theodosius, respectively. But nevertheless, he instructs Cyril to attend the council, and promises that he may regain imperial favor if he will work towards peace.
430

Dec 18

Haenel 241 399 Theodosius II, Valentinian III If someone loses a legal case against a clergyman, he will be fined in accordance with his means. Also, if a guilty man is walking with a priest or bishops, he may not be detained.
431

Mar 23

Mansi, vol. 5, 437-45 400 Theodosius II, Valentinian III When criminals take refuge in a church, none may offer force or violence to apprehend them therein. The porticoes, halls, houses, and other adjacent buildings and rooms are also designated as sanctuaries, so that the criminal will not have to defile the altar by fleeing to it. But if a criminal is not willing to lay down his weapons upon entering the sanctuary, armed men will drag him out. Anyone who has tried to drag a criminal out of a sanctuary will be condemned to capital punishment.
431 Mansi, vol. 4, 1117-20 401 Theodosius II, Valentinian III This letter to the Council of Ephesus explains the reason for sending the imperial representative Candidian. He is not there to debate doctrine, but to keep order. He will remove the disruptive monks and laypeople. He will also prevent bishops from leaving early. He will judge any accusations about money or crime.
431

June 22

PG vol. 84, 595-96 402 Candidian Candidian, the imperial representative at the Council of Ephesus, protests Cyril’s decision to vote before the Antiochene bishop’s arrival. Though he has been ejected from the assembly, he orders Cyril to wait and not do anything until all the bishops, including Nestorius, have arrived. He reminds Cyril that he is going against the wishes of the emperor.
431 PG vol. 84, 596-97 403-404 Candidian Now that the first session of the council has been held, he again urges the assembled bishops to wait for the other bishops to arrive and to obey the emperor’s instructions. He sends two letters, similar in content.
431

June 29

Mansi, vol. 4, 1377-80 405 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Theodosius instructs the pervious session to have no authority, and instructs the delegates to wait for the Antiochene and re-discuss the issue. He forbids any bishop at Ephesus to leave the city, either to go home or to appeal to the emperor. Another imperial representative is being sent to replace Candidian.
431 Mansi, vol. 4, 1396-97 406 Theodosius II, Valentinian III The emperors approve the depositions of Nestorius, Cyril, and Memnon. The assembled bishops are encouraged to maintain the faith and to return in peace to their native lands.
431

Sept 11

PG vol. 84, 625-26, 631-32 408-409 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Theodosius, having received delegations from both sides at the council, dissolves the council due to the dissentions. In his first letter he commands Cyril and Memnon to remain at Ephesus, but in his second letter he allows them to return to their sees.
431 PG vol. 84, 618-19 410 Isidore Nestorius, who had remained in Ephesus since his deposition on June 22, is to return to the monastery over which he presided before his election as bishop of Constantinople. He is to be given imperial assistants for the journey, and he may choose to either sail or take a road. He is also being provided with transportation and food, and is prayed a safe journey. He is commended for his many thousand good characterists.

[Isidore was the praetorian prefect, but this order came from the emperor. Nestorius was exiled to Idumea four years later, and then to the Great Oasis of Upper Egypt. ]

435

Aug 3

CT 16.5.66 422 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Nestorianism is condemned. Those who follow Nestorius’s teaching are to be called Simonians in the same way that Constantine ordered Arians to be called Porphyrians. Their books are banned and shall be burned. Furthermore, their assemblies are forbidden; violators will have their property confiscated.

[Drobner places this law in 438.]

435

Nov 14

CT 16.10.25 424 Theodosius II, Valentinian III Pagan sacrifices are forbidden. Pagan temples and shrines are to be torn down and replaced with the symbol of Christianity: the cross. Anyone who mocks this law faces execution.
452

Apr 15

NV 35 478 Valentinian III If there is a dispute between clergy but the litigants agree themselves, a bishop may serve as judge. This applies for lay persons also. Both litigants must agree to this.

No one may join the clergy to avoid his obligated status, including: farmers, tenant farmers, slaves, municipal senators, receivers of taxes, seviers of guilds, or public slaves. Those from upper classes may either find substitutes or return to their previous positions, those from lower classes must return to their previous position.

Clergy may not engage in a trade or conduct business. If they engage in trade, they are not subject to clerical exemptions.

Back to Imperial Laws and Letters

AD 313-364 (Constantine – Jovian)

AD 364-395 (Valentinian I – Theodosius I)

H. Drobner (The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction, trans. S. Schatzmann, updated by W. Harmless and H. Drobner [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007] , pp. 187-89) makes a strong case for placing the end of the the “fourth-century” period of church history at the year 430, and we have followed his suggestion, with a few exceptions. For the interested reader, Coleman-Norton lists 174 more laws and letters up to the year 534.

Back to Top

Created by GAD and AJW

5 Comments so far