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2013 | 12 | 81-116

Article title

Z dziejów Katedry Prawa Rzymskiego Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego



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From the history of the Roman Law Chair at the Jagiellonian University

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Roman law, as a system that was in force in large parts of Europe till the time of codifi cation of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and also influenced the final shape of the modern civil law of many countries, is one of the three essential foundations of the European civilization, which according to the image rests on three hills: Acropolis, symbolizing the Greek art and philosophy, Calvary as a symbol of Christianity, and on Capitol Hill, meaning the tradition of Roman law. This law is also one of the few scientific fields that are explicitly mentioned in the foundation act of the Jagiellonian University of 12 May 1364. Creator of the Kraków Academy, Casimir the Great, was well aware of the great prestige of Roman law as the basis of diplomatic activity, and at the same time appreciated its utility for ensuring the proper qualifications of judges, who since the release of the Statutes of the mid-fourteenth century had to rule on the basis of statutory law. Therefore the Roman law had a special role at university founded by the king, as evidenced by suplica addressed to the pope on April 6, 1364, asking for permission to establish in Kraków a Studium Generale and by the structure of the university, consisting of fi ve departments of this law, three of canon law, two of medicine and one of the artes liberales. This conclusion is further supported by a salary higher than in other departments with an exception of the faculty of canon law. Casimir the Great also found Roman law a basis for legal proceedings against the secular members of the University community, if they commited a serious crime. Contrary to the plans and hopes of Casimir the Great, during his lifetime, lectures on Roman law did not begin, however the University started its activity. A breakthrough in this area occurred no sooner than after founding Chair of Roman Law (Institutiones Justiniani) in 1533 by the eminent humanist bishop Peter Tomicki. The same who probably initiated ennoblement by king Sigismund I to all professors of the Academy of Kraków who were engaged in teaching for twenty years. Bishop Tomicki, and later his successors, brought to Kraków as teachers of Roman law a few foreigners, mostly Italians and Spaniards: John Silvius called Amathus from Sicily, Garsias Quadros of Seville and Peter Ruiz de Moros commonly called Roysius, whose disciple was John of Turobin, professor of Institutiones Justiniani since 1543. However, in the second half of the sixteenth century there were long breaks in the lectures on Roman law, due to lack of teachers. This led the University authorities to entrusting these lectures provisionally to Jacob Charvinius, a student of law, master of artes liberales at the University of Cologne, provided that he would obtain a baccalaureate in law. Finally Charvinius took the Chair of Roman Law (Institutiones Justiniani) in a winter semester 1576/1577. After that for a short time lectures on Roman law were given by: Piotr Skotnicki, Andrew Kochler-Barski, and from 1593 for several years by John Fox, a talented lawyer. The seventeenth century is considered as a period of decline both in the history of the Faculty of Law and of the entire Academy. Details of the activities of the Faculty of Law are not known, because its fi les were destroyed in a fire of Collegium Iuridicum in 1719. It is known, however, that in 1615 Maciej Bielawski taught Roman law, while James Górski junior and Stanisław Pudłowski were giving lectures in the thirties of the seventeenth century. After Swedish invasion until 1683 these lectures were given by Andrew Grabianowski, doctor utriusque juris of the Rome Sapienza. After him the cathedral was taken by Sebastian Piskorski, also educated in Rome. Anyway, in the fi rst half of the eighteenth century, the Roman law lectures were given by Jan Pałaszowski, and later, in the fi fties, by Kazimierz Jarmundowicz. We can also notice a first att empt to introduce the elements of Polish law in this period, which ultimately resulted in 1761 in creation of a new course, namely Jus Regni, covering the law in force in Poland. In the eighties of the eighteenth century, in turn of the reform of Hugo Kołłątaj, who first put to the forefront the law of nature, the Roman law was intended to be moved from the Faculty of Law to the Faculty of Theology. These changes, however, have not been approved by the Commission of National Education and the Roman law continued to be a subject of lectures at the University. Its teacher, a priest Boniface Garycki, a strong enthusiast of natural law, discussed Roman law primarily in terms of its compliance or non -compliance with the law of nature. After Garycki’s leaving the Department of Roman Law passed to Walenty Litwiński, followed by a succession of several professors who did not have any special imput to the history of the Law Department. On the other hand, a nomination for a professor of Roman law has not been given to Jan Hieronim Rzesiński, an assistant professor of the University Library and at the same time a practicing lawyer, who had an exceptionally good understanding of world literature, contrary to other Kraków Romanists. In addition also Feliks Słotwiński, who left behind a fairly significant academic work, and Jozafat Zielonacki, soon dismissed from his post of professor for political reasons, are worth mentioning here. A prominent Romanist with an outstanding academic position was however an associate professor at the University of Prague, Dr. Gustav Demelius, to whom the Austrian authorities entrusted the role of the university’s Germanizator and who therefore had to leave his position in 1861 in connection with the restoration of the Polish language at the University. However, he had managed before to promote Dr. Fryderyk Zoll called senior, to professor, and F. Zoll led the Department of Roman Law for 44 years until his retirement in 1906. The most prominent of his students was Stanisław Wróblewski, called a „Polish Papinian”, whose successor, Rafał Taubenschlag, was an excellent Roman law professor and expert in papyrology and history of Polish law. Because of his Jewish descent he had not been welcomed by the Faculty Council and he had to approach the postdoctoral degree three times. Finally, thanks to strong backing from S. Wróblewski, R. Taubenschlag received the veniam legendi and was appointed a professor in 1919. During World War II Taubenschlag stayed in the United States of America and afterwards he did not return to Kraków, although the Jagiellonian University gave him a leave until 30 September 1947. He chose Warsaw, which gave him bett er conditions for scientific activities in the field of papyrology. In Kraków professor Wacław Osuchowski from Lvov became the Roman law chair. In the absence of teachers in this fi eld, professor Osuchowski taught also at universities in Wrocław and Lublin for several years. He was the last one from the pre-war Polish Romanists generation which fi nally went away with his death in 1988. The seminar of Wacław Osuchowski was att ended by professors Stanisław Płodzień and Adam Wiliński, and also by much younger than them Wiesław Litewski and Janusz Sondel. Among those who in the postwar years were related to the Chair of Roman Law for a special reminiscence deserves the best prognosis hope Dr. Andrzej Kremer, who, as Deputy Minister of Foreign Aff airs, was killed in the crash of the presidential plane near Smoleńsk on 10 April 2010. Currently the chair is led by a priest Franciszek Longchamps de Bérier, who arrived from Warsaw.







Physical description




  • Zakład Prawa Rzymskiego UJ


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