Violation of the Thracian Land Law, c. 530 [XI.52.i.]
Vigorous measures were taken by the Eastern Empire to bring its lands back to
cultivation. By causing the forfeit of uncultivated land, by increasing the taxes upon
such land, by abolition of the capitation tax, and by imposing fines on those who took the
coloni of another, they hoped to remedy the agrarian evils of the day. The fine of two
pounds of gold on those who removed coloni was sufficiently heavy to prevent wholesale
removals of cultivators.
XI.52.i. Throughout the whole diocese of Thrace the land tax only is
binding, enrollment for the capitation tax having been abolished forever. And lest by
chance it seem to coloni that the bonds of tributary status have been loosed, and that the
faculty of wandering and departing to wheresoever they will has been permitted them, they
indeed are held by the original law; and though by condition they seem to be free,
nevertheless they are considered slaves of that same estate where they were born nor have
they the faculty of going where they will nor of changing from place to place, but their
owners have power over them, their patrons have care of them, and their lords have
potestas over them. But if any one should believe he must take and retain the colonus of
another he is compelled to pay two pounds of gold to him whose fields he has made empty by
the transfer of a cultivator, so that he should restore the same with all his goods and
P. Krueger, ed., Codex Justinianus, (Berlin, 1877), p. 990; reprinted in Roy C.
Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee:
The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998