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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Law                                    215
The remarks made above about the law of procedure can be
applied quite generally to other branches of law. Thus, as a
result of recent researches by the Italian scholar Arangio-Ruiz,
it appears that the provincial law came very near to attaining
the conception of negotiable instruments for money debts. At
any rate a record of a trial1 shows us how the plaintiff in that
action relied entirely on the fact that he was in possession oŁ
a promissory note which had been drawn in favour of a third
person.
The Romans tried to facilitate dealings in real estate because
they were fond of investing their capital in provincial land. But
here Egyptian national law, which was still in force, presented
an obstacle: if a husband had transferred his property to his wife
by a marriage settlement he could not dispose of any land with-
out the consent of his wife and of his eldest son. If the consent
was not given the property could not pass. But the Roman
speculators in real estate were not always aware of the matri-
monial affairs of the Egyptian vendors. Therefore the governors
introduced the /JtjSAtofl^/o} ey/cT^aecov, the land register, the
only one of its kind which we know in antiquity. All title-deeds
concerning real property were collected in one centre, indices
(Stacrrpciftara) facilitated reference. The purchaser of a piece of
land could search these archives, and presumably he might rest
assured that a right did not exist if it could not be found here.
Nothing corresponding to this land register existed in Roman
imperial law.
Here we have proof of the creative power of the early pro-
vincial law which thus introduced an institution which had to
be reinvented in the Middle Ages and in modern times. But
we do not know how far this land register served also for taxation
purposes and how far it was therefore developed frqm the old
Egyptian tax rolls. Diocletian abolished it in connexion with
his great tax reform.
3 Papyrus of the R. Universita di Milano, 2$.