|Stephen Urosh IV Dushan the King of Serbia and Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks|
Icon of Tsar Dushan — Lesnovo 1349
Stephen Uroš IV Dušan (Serbian: Стефан Урош IV Душан, and Emperor of the Serbs and Greekspronounced [stêfaːn ûroʃ tʃětʋr̩ːtiː dǔʃan]), commonly known as Stephen Dušan and Dušan the Mighty (Душан Силни; c. 1308 – 20 December 1355), was the King of Serbia (from 8 September 1331) (from 16 April 1346) until his death on 20 December 1355. Dušan managed to conquer a large part of Southeast Europe, becoming one of the most powerful monarchs in his time. He enacted the constitution of the Serbian Empire in Dušan's Code, one of, if not the most important work of medieval Serbia. Dušan promoted the Serbian Church from an Archbishopric to a Patriarchate, finished the construction of the Visoki Dečani-monastery (UNESCO item), and founded the Saint Archangels Monastery, among others. Under his rule Serbia reached its territorial, economical, political and cultural peak.
His death in 1355 is seen as the end of resistance towards the advancing Ottoman Empire, and the subsequent fall of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the region. His Crown is presently kept at the Cetinje Monastery, in Montenegro.
|Manuscript of Dushan's Code|
The Code of Serbian Tsar Stephan Dushan
THE LAW OF THE TRUE-BELIEVING TSAR STEPHAN. IN THE YEAR 6857, INDICTION 2, AT THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD, ON THE 21ST DAY OF THE MONTH OF MAY.
We enact this Law by our Orthodox Synod, by His Holiness the Patriarch Kir Joanikije together with all the Archpriests and Clergy, small and great, and by me, the true-believing Tsar Stephan, and all the Lords, small and great, of this our Empire. These Laws provide.
1. On Christianity
First, concerning Christianity. In this manner shall Christianity be purged.
No lords or any other persons shall marry without the blessing of their own archpriest, or of those chosen and appointed as priests by the archpriests.
And no wedding shall take place without nuptials. If any marry without the blessing and permission of the Church, such persons shall be legally separated.
4. On Spiritual Matters
And in spiritual matters, every man shall show submission and obedience to his archpriest. And if any person be found committing a sin against the Church, or transgressing against any rule of this Law willingly or unwillingly, such a one shall yield and submit himself to the Church. But if he disobey and evade the discipline of the Church and be not willing to follow the orders of the Shurch, he shall be excommunicated.
The bishops shall not curse the Christians for spiritual sins: but shall send twice and thrice to reproach him who has sinned. And if he does not obey and shows himself unwilling to correct himself in accordance with the spiritual instructions, he shall then be excommunicated.
And concerning the Latin heresy: Christians who have turned to the use of unleavened bread shall return to the Christian observance. If any fail to obey and do not return to Christian Orthodoxy, let him be punished as is written in the Code of the Holy Fathers.
And the Great Church shall appoint head priests in all market towns to reclaim front the Latin heresy those Christians who have turned to the Latin faith, and to give them spiritual instructions, so that each one of them return to Christianity.
And if a Latin priest be found to have converted a Christian to the Latin faith, let him be punished according to the Law of the Holy Fathers.
And if a half-believer be found to be married to a Christian woman, let him be baptized into Christianity if he desires it. But if he refuse to be baptized, let his wife and children be taken from him, and let a part of his house be allotted to them, and let him be driven forth.
And if any heretic be found to live among the Christians, let him be branded on the face and driven forth, and whoever shall harbour him, let him too be branded.
11. On Clergymen
And bishops shall appoint clergymen in all of their parishes, both in towns and in the villages. And these clergymen shall be those who have been blessed by their archpriests to become clergy, to bind and to set free. And they shall be obeyed by everyone according to the law of the Church. Whereas those clergymen who are not appointed as clergymen shall be driven away and punished by the Church according to the law.
12. On Jurisdiction
And no laymen shall judge in a clerical matter. And should any layman be found to have judged an ecclesiastical matter, let him pay 300 perpers. Only the Church shall judge.
13. On Bishops
Neither metropolitans, nor bishops, nor priors shall be appointed by bribery. And from now on whoever shall appoint a metropolitan, or bishop, or prior by bribery, let him be accursed and anathematized. And if anyone be found appointed by bribery, let them both be deposed from their rank, the one who made the appointment and the appointed one.
14. On Priors
Priors shall not be removed without an ecclesiastical reason.
As priors in monasteries good men shall be appointed who will exalt the house of God.
Priors shall live in monastic communities according to the law, and shall confer with the elders.
And for each thousand houses let there be fed in the monasteries 50 monks.
18. On Monks
And monks and nuns who are tonsured and live in their own homes, shall be expelled and shall live in the monasteries.
And monks native of the region in the church in which they were tonsured, may not live in that church, but shall go to other monasteries, and food shall be given them.
A monk who abandons his habit shall be kept in prison until he return again to obedience, and let him be punished.
21. On Heretics Who Burn the Bodies of the Dead
And take people out of graves by sorcery and burn them, any village that does this shall pay a fine, and if any priest shall come to it, let his priesthood be taken from him.
And whoever shall sell a Christian into another and false faith, let him be crippled and his tongue cut out.
23. On the Church's People
And serfs who live in Church villages and summer pasture huts, let them each go to his own lord.
Church shall not be bound to supply transport, save when the Tsar himself is travelling somewhere, then the churches shall provide for the transport.
And if any Church principal be found to have taken bribes, let all his property be taken away from him.
Churches shall be governed by the Lord Tsar, and the Patriarch, and the Logothete, and by none other.
All churches situated in the lands of my Empire, my Imperiality releases from all labour, both great and small.
The imperial churches shall not be subject to the great churches.
And in all churches the poor shall be fed, as is written by the church founders. Should any metropolitan, or bishop, or prior fail to feed them, he shall be deprived of his rank.
And monks shall not live outside the monastery.
And henceforward no authority may molest a monk or a man of the Church; and whoever shall transgress against this in the course of my lifetime or after the death of my Imperiality, he shall not be blessed. If anyone be guilty towards another, let him sue through the court and by justice, according to the law; whoever shall molest or hinder anyone without judgment, let him pay sevenfold.
32. On Priests
And priests with patrimony shall have their patrimonial estate, and be free, and those priests who have no patrimonial estate, to them shall be given 3 fields according to the law, and the priest who have no patrimonial estate, to them shall be given 3 fields according to the law, and the priest's cap shall be free of tax. If he take more, he shall do labour for the churches for these lands according to the law.
No priest shall leave his master. If his master does not feed him according to the law, let him go to his archpriest, and the archpriest shall tell that lord to feed the priest according to law; but if that master does not obey, let the priest be free to go wherever he wishes. If the priest be the owner of a patrimonial estate, the master shall not be authorized to drive him away, but he shall be free.
34. On People of the Church
People of the Church who hold Church villages and Church lands and have driven the Church serfs or Vlachs away, those who have driven the men away shall be bound, and their land and men taken from them, and let the Church keep them until they have restored the men whom they drove away.
People of the Church shall be judged for every plea before their own metropolitans, and before bishops, and priors. And if both litigants are people of the same church, they shall be judged before their own church; but if the two men who litigate are of two churches, they shall be judged by both churches.
And as for villages of the Church and people of the Church, let them not go into the villages of my imperial estates, neither for haymaking, nor for ploughing, nor for the vineyards, nor for any labour small or hard. My Imperiality has exempted them from all labour; let them work for the Church only. Whoever shall be found to have driven the serfs of the Church into an imperial estate, and to have disobeyed the imperial law, all property of that self-willed owner shall be taken away from him and he shall be punished.
37. And more on Priors
And my Imperiality has granted churches to the priors, that they may dispose of the whole house, of the mares and the horses, and sheep, and of everything else, and that they be authorized to do whatever is deemed suitable, appropriate and lawful, as is written in the chrysobull of the holy founders.
And let them establish in the churches the rules for monastic communities for the monks and in the monasteries too, as may be suitable for each monastery.
And laymen may not be exarchs; metropolitans shall not send them to priests, but they shall send one monk with another from priest to priest, to perform the duties of the Church and to take from the priests the Church revenue derived from the patrimonial estate.
40. On Chrysobulls
And all the chrysobulls and charters which my Imperiality hath granted and shall grant to anyone, those patrimonial estates shall be confirmed, as those of the previous Orthodox Tsars, and they shall have full authority over them: either to give them to the Church, or bequeath for the soul, or sell to anyone.
41. On Deceased Lords
If a lord have children, or if he have no children, and die, and upon his death the patrimonial estate remain vacant, wherever there be found someone of his kin up to the third cousin, that one shall have his patrimonial estate.
And all patrimonial estates shall be free of all labours and tributes to my Imperiality, save to pay the corn-due and provide soldiers to fight according to the law.
Neither the Lord Tsar, nor the King, nor the Lady Tsaritsa is free to take a patrimonial estate by force from anyone, nor to buy, nor exchange, unless someone freely consent.
And when lords and other persons have hereditary churches on their patrimonial estates, neither the Lord Tsar, nor the Patriarch, nor any bishop may subject those churches to the Great Church, but the hereditary owner is free to appoint his own monk and to take him for ordination to the bishop in whose diocese it is; and in that church the bishop shall administer ecclesiastical affairs.
And a lord who is found to have submitted his own church to another church, shall have no more authority over that church.
And slaves that anybody hath, he shall have them as his patrimonial estate, and their children as his eternal patrimony. but a slave shall never be given as a dowry.
And more: the slaves owned by lords shall be in their patrimonial estate. Only the lord, or his wife, or his son may free them, and none other.
48. On Deceased Nobles
When a noble dies, his good horse and arms shall be given to the Tsar, but his great tobes of pearls and golden girdle, let his son have them, and let them not be taken by the Tsar. And if he have no son, but have a daughter, let his daughter have title over them, to sell or give away freely.
49. On Insult
A lord who insults and disgraces a lesser lord shall pay 100 perpers, and a lesser lord who insult a lord, shall pay 100 perpers and be beaten with sticks.
And if a lord or a lesser lord insult a commoner, let him pay 100 perpers; and if a commoner insult a lord or a lesser lord, let him pay 100 perpers and be singed.
51. On Taking by force
If any lord take a noblewoman by force, let both his hands be cut off and his nose be slit. But if a commoner take a noblewoman by force, let him be hanged; if he take his own equal, let both his hands be cut off and his nose slit.
If a noblewoman commit fornication with her man, let the hands of both be cut off and their noses slit.
Border lords: when any army crosses the frontier and plunders the imperial land, and returns again throught their land, those border lords through whose territory they pass, shall pay all.
And whoever presents his son or brother at Court, and the Tsar asks him:” Shall I trust him” - and he shall say: “Trust him as myself”, if he do any evil, let him pay who hath presented him. And if he should serve as others serve in the imperial palace, he shall pay himself if he do wrong.
For disloyalty, for any sin, brother shall not pay for brother, father for son, kinsman for kinsman, if they dwell separately from the culprit in their own houses; the who have not sinned shall not pay anything; but that one who hath sinned, his household shall pay.
A lord shall not be summoned in the evening, but shall be summoned before dinner by a clerk, and if he come not by dinner time, he is at fault. And from that lord 6 oxen shall be taken.
When a lord, or any other soldier return home from the army, if someone hath summoned him to the court, let him remain at home for 3 weeks and then let him go to the court.
Greater lords shall be summoned by a writ of the judge, and the others with the seal.
59. On Misdemeanour
If any lord passing do some wrong to anybody out of spite, plunder his land or burn his house or do any other misdemeanour, from such a one that holding shall be taken, and another shall not be given to him.
If someone die, and own one village in a district or in several districts, for any wrong done to that village, by fire or by any other cause, the surrounding settlements shall pay for all the wrong done to that village.
61. On Fiefs
No one is free to sell or buy a fief who does not own a patrimonial estate. No one is authorized to subject fief-lands to the Church; if he subject them, let it not be valid.
62. On the Tsar
Everyone shall provide transport for the Tsar wherever he goes, every town to the district, and the district to the town.
63. On Prefects
Prefects who are in the towns shall take their income according to the law, and let corn, and wine, and meat be sold to them at one dinar which is sold to others for two. But only a citizen may sell to him, and none other.
64. On Poor Women
A poor spinner woman shall be free, like a priest.
65. On Litigation at Court
Brothers who are together in one house, when summoned at their home, the one among them who comes shall answer. If he be found at the imperial court or at the judges court to come and say: “I will submit my elder brother to the court”, let him do so, and he shall not be forced to answer.
66. On Slaves and Serfs
Slaves and serfs who dwell together in one village, shall all together pay any payment which is due; according to the way men pay the payments and do the labour, so they shall hold the land, too.
67. On the Law
The law for the serfs on all the land: they shall work two days for the fief-holder and shall give him one imperial perper annually, and they shall mow his hay with all their household one day, and work his vineyard one day; and for those who own no vineyard, let them do other labour one day. And what a serf produces let all that be kept by the fief-holder, but nothing else outside the law shall be taken from the serf.
And when someone be found in one house separated by bread and property, either brothers, or father from sons, or any other yet dwelling in one hearth, let him do labour like other small people.
And whoever commits an evil, be it a brother, or son, or kinsman, if they dwell together in one house, all shall be paid by the master of the house, or he shall hand over him who committed the evil.
70. On the Commoners Council
Commoners shall have no council. If anybody is found participating in council, let his ears be cut off, and let the leaders be singed.
A poor person who is not able to litigate or defend himself, let him provide a representative to litigate for him.
72. On Pasture
Let village graze with village: where one village, there also the other. Only legal enclosures and meadows may not be grazed by anyone.
No district may graze its cattle within another district. If in a district a village be found belonging to any lord, or to my Imperiality, or to the Church, or belonging to a lesser lord, let nobody forbid that village to graze; let it graze where the district graze.
74. For Straying
If any mans cattle trespass on corn, or a vineyard, or a meadow in error, let him pay for this straying what the valuers assess. But if he trespass intentionally, let him pay the straying and six oxen.
75. For Fighting
A fight between villages, 50 perpers, between Vlachs and Albanians, 100 perpers. And of this fine one half to the Tsar, and one half to the lord owning the village.
76. On Litigation at Court
On land and on Church people, if the churches have an action with anyone and if he produce a deed of gift or say: I have an almoner, let no heed be paid either to that deed or the almoner, but the case shall be tried according to the law of the Church and to that of my Imperiality; but let the Tsar be asked.
77. On Boundaries
And if villages dispute between themselves touching land boundaries, let them sue by the law of the Sainted King from the year of his death. If anyone produce a Tsar's deed of gift and say: The Lord Tsar gave me this, as my equal held before me, if he produce the Tsar's deed of gift, let it be accordingly; let him hold it, save if it be of the Church.
78. For Village Boundaries
As for village boundaries, let both litigants bring witnesses, this one half and the other one half, according to the law, and where the witnesses assign, so it shall be.
79. On Mountains.
The mountains which are in the lands of my Imperiality, those mountains which are of the Tsar shall belong to the Tsar, and those of the Church shall belong to the Church, and those of the lords shall belong to the lords.
80. On the Vlachs and Albanians
In a village where a Vlach or an Albanian stay, another following him shall not stay in that village. If that one stay by force, let him pay a fine and for the grass he has grazed.
81. On Deeds of Gift
Where in a case about land two Tsars deeds of gift are presented, the land shall be of the one who holds it now, up to the time of this Council, and let not the deed of gift be contested.
82. On the Ordeal
For the one who was submitted to the ordeal, there shall be no further trial nor vindication. Whoever vindicates himself shall give no justification to the judges. There shall be no surety in court, and no false accusation and imprisonment for debt. There shall only be trial according to law.
83. On Heretical Utterance
And whose utters a heretical word, if he be noble let him pay 100 perpers, and if he be a commoner, let him pay 12 perpers and be beaten with sticks.
84. On Homicide
Whoever commits homicide without intention and violence, let him pay 300 perpers. If a man kill intentionally, both his hands shall be cut off. And where there is homicide, the one provoking the fight shall be guilty even if he himself be killed.
85. On Surety
When lords are litigating, the one who institutes the lawsuit about something shall give surety.
86. On Summoning
Whoever summons a culprit before the judges and then does not come to court, but stays at home, if the party summoned come at the appointed time before the judges and remain according to law, he shall be free of the guilt for which he was summoned, since that one who summoned him stayed at home.
87. On Pledges
Pledges, wherever they be found, shall be redeemed.
88. On Litigating
When two are litigating, if one of them say: I have an clerk here in the Imperial court, or in the judges court, let him produce him. When he seeks him and finds him not there in the court, let him come forthwith to the court and declare: I have not found the clerk. If he be at dinner time, let him be given time till supper; let him produce him the next day by dinner time. And if the Tsar or the judge have sent that clerk upon some service, the one who had called him shall not be at fault; and a time limit shall be given him till the clerk come, to bring him before the judges.
89. On Recognizing Objects
If anyone recognize an object with another man, and it be in the forest, in the wilderness, let him take him to the nearest village and hand him to that village, and call upon it to deliver him before the judges. If the village do not deliver him before the judges, that village shall pay what the court determine.
90. On Enticing a Man of Another Lord
Whoso enticeth somebody's man into another's land, shall return him together with six more.
91. On Homicide
If a lord kill a commoner in a town, or in a district, or in a summer pasture hut, he shall pay one thousand perpers. But if a commoner kill a lord, both his hands shall be cut off and he shall pay 300 perpers.
92. On Insult
Whoso insulteth a bishop, or a monk, or priest, shall pay 100 perpers.
93. On Homicide
Whoso be found to have killed a bishop, or a monk, or priest, let him be killed and hanged.
Whoso be found to have killed his father, or mother, or brother, or his own child, let that murderer be burnt in the fire.
95. On Plucking Beards
Whoso be found to have plucked the beard of a nobleman or of a good man, his hand shall be cut off.
If two commoners pluck each other, the fine shall be 6 perpers.
97. On Arson
If anyone be found who hath set fire to a house, or to a threshing floor, or straw, or hay belonging to another man, out of malice, that incendiary shall be burnt in the fire. If he be not found, let that village hand over the incendiary. And if it hand him not, let that village pay what the incendiary would have paid.
If anyone outside a village set fire to a threshing floor or hay, let the surrounding settlements pay or hand over the incendiary.
99. On Invasion
There shall be no violence against anyone and for anything in the imperial lands. If there happen to him an invasion or unruly force, let all the horses used for invasions be taken away, one half to the Tsar, and the other half to him who was attacked; and the men committing invasion shall be punished as is written in the Law of the Holy Fathers, in the Town Branches; let him be tortured as would a deliberate murderer.
100. On Cautionary Deposit
There shall be no cautionary deposit to anyone and in anything. Whose shall give a cautionary deposit for whatever reason, let him pay sevenfold.
101. On Trial
As to the slaves, they shall be tried before their lords, as they please, for their offenses, but for the imperial ones they shall go before the judges: for bloodshed, for fine, for theft, for brigandage, for harbouring another persons man.
102. On Summoning
And the clerk shall not call upon a wife when the husband is not at home, nor shall a wife be summoned without her husband, but the wife shall give her husband notice to go to court. In that case, the husband shall not be at fault until she give him notice.
103. On Imperial Writs
Imperial writs which are produced before the judges in any matter, and which the Tsar's Law make invalid; whatever writ the Tsar has issued to anyone, these writs which the court should find invalid, shall be taken by the judges and brought before the Tsar.
104. On Courtiers
Noblemen's courtiers, if any one of them commit some evil, if he be a commoner, let him seize from the cauldron; if he be a son of a fief-holder let him be judged by a jury of his father's peers.
105. Of Refusal
Whoso is found to have refused a judges envoy or clerk shall be deprived of his property; all he had shall be taken from him.
106. On Tax on Taking Possession
And on tax on taking possession, let it be thus: the tax on land to the clerk, 3 perpers, on a village, 3 perpers, on a mill, 3 perpers, on a district, 3 perpers on each village, one perper, on a mare, 6 dinars, on a head of cattle, 4 dinars, on a sheep 2 dinars.
107. On Judges
A judge travelling anywhere across imperial lands and in his own area, shall not be authorized to take a meal by force, nor anything else save gifts given him by someone of their free will.
Whoso be found to disgrace a judge, if he be a noble let all be taken from him, and if it be a village - let it be scattered and confiscated.
109. On Prisoners
A man who escapes from imprisonment, with what he came to the imperial court, be he the Tsar's man, or of the Church, or of a lord, let him be free with that. And whatever he has left with that man from whom he hath escaped, let it belong to the one from whom he hath escaped.
A prisoner kept in the Church court and who escapes to the imperial court, let him be free. Likewise, a prisoner who escapes to the Patriarch's court, let him be free.
111. On Lords Men
Men who return from an alien country to the imperial land, if any run away from security, those warrantors who have taken over security for such a man shall pay nought.
And whoever has received somebodys man from another land, and this one has fled from his lord, from court, if he produce the Tsar's letter of mercy, it shall not be annulled. But if he produce no letter of mercy, let him be given back to the one to whom he belong.
113. On Finding
Whoso find anything in the imperial land let him not take it and say: I will return it if anyone recognize. And if he arrogates or takes, let him pay like a thief or robber. But whoever finds anything in a foreign land while in the army, let him bring it before the Tsar and the commanders.
Whatever come to any man in the Tsar's lands, or out of a town or a district, which before the Tsar took it, until it did not belong to the Tsar, but belonged to some other lord, from that time there shall be no claim, whether of man or of any other right. if it come after the possession has been taken by the Lord Tsar, let it be claimed.
115. On Market
No nobleman or any other man is authorized to hinder by force merchants who travel about the Tsar's lands, nor seize merchandise and force them to take money. Whosoever shall be found unloading or dispersing by force, shall pay five hundred perpers.
Merchants who trade in scarlet cloth and other necessary small and big merchandise, shall travel over the Tsar's lands, to sell and buy, however commerce may requre.
A customs officer of the Tsar is not authorized to hinder or to detain any merchant in order to force him to sell his merchandise at a very low price. Everyone is free to travel to all markets, and to move with his merchandise as he wishes. No lord, either small or great, nor any other, may detain or hinder his men or other merchants to go to the markets of the Tsar, but let everyone go freely.
If a lord detain a merchant, let him pay 300 perpers. And if a customs officer detain him, let him pay 300 perpers.
119. On Chrysobulls
Greek towns which the Lord Tsar hath taken, whatsoever chrysobulls and charters have been granted to them by him, whatsoever they possess and hold up to the time of this Council - let them hold it, and let this be confirmed to them and nothing shall be taken from them.
120. On Maintenance
Towns are not liable for maintenance, but everyone who come, shall go to the inn, either small or great shall go the innkeeper; to hand him his horse and all his luggage for the inkeeper to keep it all. And when that guest leave, let the inkeeper hand him all that the guest hath handed him. And if anything be lost to him, let him pay it all.
If there be robbery or theft on urban land around a town, let the surrounding settlements pay it all.
122. On Building a Fortress
And where a fortress or tower is toppled, let the citizens of that town rebuild it and the district which belongs to that town.
When the Lord Tsar hath a son to marry or to christen and hath need to build a court and houses, let everyone help, both small and great.
124. On Armies
In every army the commanders shall have the same authority as the Tsar. What they say, let it be obeyed. If anyone disobey them in whatever, he shall be tried in the same way as those who would disobey the Tsar. In judicial matters in the army, both small and great the commanders shall judge them, and nobody else.
Whoever in the army destroys a church, let him be killed or hanged.
126. On Quarrels
In the army there shall be no quarrel. If two quarrel, let them fight, and no soldier shall help them in the fight. And if anyone start to succour them in the fight, let them be punished, both their hands be cut off.
Whoever buys something from booty taken on foreign soil, and is seized on the lands of the Tsar, let him be free to buy from that booty as if he were on foreign soil. If someone accuse him, saying: That is mine, let him be absolved by the jury according to law, for he bought on foreign soil, and is not a thief, nor a go-between, nor an accomplice. So let him possess it as his own.
128. On Emissaries
An emissary proceeding from a foreign country to the Tsar or from the Lord Tsar to his own lord, in whatever village he come, let him be honoured, let him have enough of everything, and he shall have dinner or supper and proceed further to other villages.
129. On Writing Deeds
When the Lord Tsar hath written a deed for a patrimonial estate, to whom he hath granted a village in patrimonial estate, let the logothete be paid 30 perpers for the chrysobull; and to whom a district is given, for each village 30 perpers, and to the scribe for the writing, 6 perpers.
130. On the Army
If the army going through the Tsar's land lodge in a village, let not another which follows it, lodge in the same village.
IN THE YEAR 6862, THE 7TH OF THE INDICTION
The writ of the Tsar shall be obeyed where ever it come, be it to the Lady Tsaritsa, or to the King, or to the lords great and small, and to any man. No one shall disobey what is written in the writ of the Tsar. But if such a writ cannot be fulfilled by someone or if he is not able to give at that very moment, let him go again with the writ to the Tsar, to inform the Tsar.
132. On Chrysobulls
The chrysobulls of the Tsar which are granted to the towns of the Tsar: what is written to them may not be contested even by the Lord Tsar or by any other man. Let the chrysobulls of the Tsar be firm.
133. On False Writing
If there be found in someones chrysobull a word falsely transcribed and words changed and meaning altered into something the Lord Tsar hath not ordered, let these chrysobulls be torn up, and such a one shall no more possess the patrimonial estate.
No master is authorized to do anything contrary to the law to serfs within the Tsar's land; only what the Tsar has written in the Code, that shall they labour and give to their masters. If he do something illegal to his serf, the Lord Tsar orders that every serf be authorized to litigate with his master, or with the Tsar, or with the Lady Tsaritsa, or with the Church, or with the lords of the Tsar, and with anybody; he shall not be authorized to withold him from the court of the Tsar, but the judges shall judge him according to justice. And if the serf win the lawsuit against his master, let the judge of the Tsar guarantee the way the master shall pay all to the serf at the appointed time; and let that master be not authorized to do any harm to the serf afterwards.
135. On Receiving a Man of Another
Imperial order: no one may receive any one's man; neither the Tsar, nor the Tsaritsa, nor the Church, nor a lord, nor any other man, may receive any ones man without a writ of the Tsar. Let him be punished, whosoever it may be, as a traitor.
And also if the market-towns, and headmen, and in the towns, receive a man of another, let them be punished in the same way and give him up.
137. On Lords Bringing to Ruin their Estate
To the lords and lesser lords to whom the Tsar hath given land and towns: if any one of them be found to have plundered villages and people and ruined them, outside the Tsar's Law which he hath enacted in the Council, let his estate be taken from him and let him pay for what he has ruined from his own house and be punished as a runaway.
138. On Brigands
And if a brigand be found to cross a border area, and if he rob anywhere, and return again with his booty, let the warden of the marches pay sevenfold.
139. On Fugitives
If a lord or a lesser lord or any other man of my Empire be found as a fugitive, and the surrounding villages or a district arise to plunder his home and his cattle which he has left, those who do so shall be punished as traitors to my Empire.
140. On Thieves and Brigands
Imperial order: In all lands, and in the towns, and in districts, and in the marches, there shall be no brigands or thieves in anybody's region. And in this manner shall thieving and brigandage be stopped: In whatsoever village a thief or brigand be found, that village shall be scattered, and the brigand shall be hanged by his feet, and the thief shall be blinded, and the master of the village shall be brought bound to the Tsar and pay for shall be punished as a thief and a brigand.
And also prefects, and lieutenants, and bailiffs, and reeves, and headmen who are found to administer villages and summer pasture huts, all these shall be punished in the manner written above if any thief or brigand be found in them.
If the bailiffs have informed the masters, and the masters pretended not to know, these masters shall be punished as a brigand and a thief is.
143. On Judges
The judges appointed by the Tsar in the land to judge, if they write of anything, of brigands and thieves, or of whatever court decision, and the Church, or a lord, or any other man in the land of the Tsar disobey the writ of the Tsar's judge , they shall all be punished as disobedient to the Tsar.
144. On Thieves and Brigands
In this manner shall a thief and a brigand taken in the act be punished - and to be taken in the act is when something is directly found on them; or if he be taken in the act of robbery, or of theft; or if they are handed over by the districts, or by the villages, or by the masters, or by the lords who are superior to them, as is written above; these brigands and thieves shall not be pardoned but blinded or hanged.
And if anyone sue a brigand and a thief in the court, and he be not taken in the act, then they shall justify themselves by undergoing ordeal by iron as decreed by the Tsar; they shall take it at the door of the church from the fire, and place it upon the Holy Table.
146. On Jury
The imperial order: From now henceforward let there be a jury for great matters and small ones. For a great matter, let there be 24 jurors, and for a lesser matter 12 jurors, and for a small matter 6 jurors. And these jurors shall not be authorized to make peace between the parties, but to acquit or else convict. And let every jury be in a church, and the priest in robes shall swear them, and whatever the majority of the jury swear to and whoever they acquit, that shall be believed.
As was the law under the grandfather of the Tsar, under the Sainted King, so let great lords be jurors for great lords, and for middle persons their own peers, while for commoners their peers. And on a jury let there be neither kinsmen nor enemies.
148. The Law
For heterodox persons and merchants, jurors shall be made half of Christians, and half of their peers, according to the law of the Sainted King.
149. The Law
When jurors acquit some one on oath according to the law, and after the acquittal, guilt be proved genuinely against the one whom they have acquitted, let the Tsar exact from those jurors a fine of one thousand perpers each, and afterwards those jurors shall not be believed. And if they be found to have knowingly wrongfully acquitted, or given up, or taken any bribe, after having paid as aforesaid, they shall be confined in another unfamiliar region.
150. On Maintenances
From now on and henceforward there shall be no maintenance or escort, but when a great lord standard-bearer come into a district, or a lesser lord, who holds his fief separately and they have no community between them and between their fiefs, they shall pay.
In the lands of the Tsar, that is in the villages with serfs, lords shall take no maintenance or any other pay, but they shall pay from their own means.
Where there be mixed districts, with villages of the Church, and of the Tsar, and of the lords, and the villages be mixed, and there be not one master over that district, but if there be prefects and judges of the Tsar whom the Tsar hath appointed, let them post guards on all roads and let them hand over the roads to the prefects to protect them with the guards; and if anyone be attacked by brigands or suffer some theft or any other evil, let them go forthwith to the prefects, who shall pay from their own means, and the prefects shall seek from the guards, and from the brigands and the thieves.
153. On Guards
If there be an unpopulated hill between districts, the surrounding villages which are around that hill shall stand guard. If they fail to stand guard, whatever happens on that bill, in a deserted place, by way of damage, or robbery, or theft, or any other evil, let the surrounding villages pay to whom it was ordered to guard the road.
154. On Merchants
When merchants in passing by at night come for lodging for the night, if the reeve or master of that village does not allow them to spend the night in the village, according to the law of the Tsar, as it is in the Code, if the traveller lose anything, all shall be paid by that master, and reeve, and village, for not having admitted them to the village.
155. On Guests and on Brigands
If it so happen to any guest or merchant or monk and he be robbed of anything by brigand or thief, or be in any way hindered, let them all come to the Tsar, that the Tsar repay them for what they have lost. And the Tsar shall seek it from the prefects and lords to whom the road was handed over and the guards. And let every guest, and merchant, and Latin come to the first guard with all that he has and bears, to escort him; and let the guard deliver him to the next guard with all his belongings. And if it so happen that they lose anything, let them have the jury of trustworthy men: whatsoever they shall say upon their soul to have lost, that shall the prefects and guards pay them.
156. On Court Litigation
When litigants are suing in court, the one who has brought the legal action pleading his own case, and the other, the defendant, who rejects the accusation, let not the defendant be authorized to falsely charge his adversary by some other plea, or breach of faith, or for any other matter, but he shall only answer him. And when the case is finished, if he have anything to say, let him speak after that with him before the judges of the Tsar; but he shall not be believed in anything he is saying until the case is finished.
Clerks may go nowhere without a writ of the judge, or without a writ of the Tsar; but wheresoever the judges send them, they shall give them a writ, and the clerk shall undertake nothing save what is written in the writ. And the judges shall also keep copies of the writs that they have given to the clerk whom they have sent on business through the land, and if the clerk be suspected to have done something other than the writ prescribes, or if they altered the writ, let this serve for their exculpation: they shall go before the judges, and if they have acted as is written in the writ of the judge which the judges keep, they shall be justified; but if it be found that they have altered the decision of the court, let both their hands be cut off or their tongue slit.
Every judge who administers justice shall write his judgments and keep them with him, and the second copy, after having been written by him, shall be given to him who has justified himself in the court.
The judges shall send good, honest and trustworthy clerks.
160. On Impostors
If any impostor be found to pursue someone by using deceit, and lying, and fraud, such a one shall be punished as a thief and a brigand.
161. On Drunkards
When a drunkard come from anywhere and attack anyone, or cut, or make someone bleed, yet not to death, to that drunkard one eye shall be removed and one hand cut off. But if a drunken man attack somebody or pull off his cap, or inflict some other shame, but do not make him bleed, he shall be beaten: one hundred strokes, that is, 100 times to be struck, and cast into prison, and afterwards be taken from prison and beaten again and released.
162. On Judges, on Litigants
When litigants come before the Tsar's court, those words which they first utter, shall be believed and according to those words judgment shall be given, and according to the subsequent ones, nothing.
163. On Goldsmiths
Goldsmiths may nowhere dwell in the districts and in the lands of the Tsar, save in the market-towns where the Tsar hath determined that money may be minted.
And let the goldsmiths abide in the towns of the Tsar, and let them make other necessary objects.
And if a goldsmith be found in a town who coins money secretly, the goldsmith shall be branded, and the town shall pay such fine as the Tsar declares.
And if a goldsmith be found in a village, the village shall be scattered, and the goldsmith branded.
167. On Justice
Imperial order: If the Tsar write a writ either from anger or from love, or by grace for someone, and that writ transgress the Code, and be not according to justice and the law, as written in the Law, the judges shall not believe that writ, but shall only judge and act according to justice.
All judges shall judge according tot he law, rightly, as is written in the Code, and shall not judge out of fear of the Tsar.
169. On Escorts
Lords and lesser lords who go to the court of the Tsar, be it a Greek, or German, or Serb, or any other lord, if he bring with him a brigand or a thief, that master shall be punished as a thief and brigand.
170. On Patrimonial Estates
Ploughmen who have their own patrimonial land, and vineyards, and purchased lands, are free to give as dowry, or to bequeath to the Church, or sell, from their own vineyards and from land, but there shall always be labourers in that place for that master whose village it is. If there be no labourers in that place, he is free to take those vineyards and fields.
171. On Judges
The judge who is in the court of the Tsar, when any evil occur, let him pass judgment. If the litigants happen to be in the court of the Tsar, let the court judge pass judgment on them, and no one shall be summoned to the court of the Tsar outside the competence of the judges appointed by the Tsar, but let every one go before his own judge.
172. On the Law
All towns which are in the lands of the Tsar shall be under the law as they were in the times of previous tsars. For disputes which they have between themselves, let them be tried before the prefects of the towns and before the clergy. If a man from a district sue a citizen, let him sue before the prefect of the town and before the clergy according to the law.
173. On the Palace Court
Lords who permanently dwell in the house of the Tsar, if they are sued before the judge of the palace, then no one else shall try them.
Judges who send their clerks and writs somewhere, if any man disobey and repel the clerks, the judges shall send writs to the prefects and to the lords in whose province the disobedient ones are, that they execute the writs written by the judges. And if these do not execute the writs, let them be punished as disobedient ones.
Let the judges go through the land within their jurisdiction to supervise and do justice to the poor and the needy.
176. On Recognizing Objects
And if anyone find something robbed, or stolen, or taken by force, and that very thing, let each party in the case give evidence. If anyone buy anywhere, either in the lands of my Empire or in another land, let him always give evidence of that. If he produce no evidence, let him pay according to the law.
Imperial order to the judges: If there be a weighty case and they cannot decide it and pass judgment, however great the court may be, let one of the judges go with both litigants before the Tsar. And whatever the judges shall wish to try, let them write down each judgment, that there be no mistake, that it be proceeded according to the Law of the Tsar.
Let no man who is within the jurisdiction of appointed judges, be authorized to take his case to the court of the Tsar or anywhere else, but every one shall go before his own judge in whose jurisdiction he is, so that the matter may be tried according tot he law.
The shepherds of the Tsar shall go before the judges when they have disputes among themselves: for fines, for brigandage, for theft, for harbouring alien people, for murder, for land.
Lords and prefects of the Tsar who hold the towns and market-towns, none of them may imprison a man without a writ of the Tsar. If any such do receive him without the command of the Tsar, let him pay five hundred perpers.
In the same way, he who holds the prisons of the Tsar shall receive no one, nobody's man, without a writ of the Tsar.
Wheresoever the Tsar and Tsaritsa travel, with their train and equipment, or horses of the Tsar, in whatsoever village they spend the night, in that village afterwards no officer of the train may spend the night. If there be one to spend the night in that village, contrary to the law and the order of the Tsar, the one who is the head of the train and equipment shall be delivered bound to that village; for that which is wrecked, he shall pay sevenfold.
183. On Horses and Dogs
Wheresoever the horses, and dogs, and train and equipment of the Tsar go, whatever is written in the Tsar's letter, shall be given to them, and nothing else.
184. On Collectors of Fines
The Collectors of fines who are with the judges, whatsoever fines the judges hall impose and after registering them deliver to the collectors of fines, such fines shall the collectors of fines take, and what the judges do not impose and after registering them do not give to the collectors of fines, they are not authorized to exact from any man.
|Icon of Tsar Dushan — Dechani 1348|
Translated by Djurica Krstich. This is the Bistritsa manuscript translation.
Source: Законик Душана Силног
The Code of Serbian Tsar Stephan Dushan, Introduction by Radoman Stankovich
The Code of Serbian Tsar Stephan Dushan, Introduction by Radoman Stankovich
|Visoki Decani Monastery , Kosovo, Serbia|
UNESCO's decision to include Visoki Decani Monastery on the World Heritage List is happy and encouraging news, as well as a great recognition for our monastery, which is a pearl of medieval Serbian Christian art.
The Code of Serbian Tsar Stephan Dushan
Душанов законик, Dušanov zakonik (English: Dušan's Code , known historically as Закон благовјернаго цара Ст...