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A comparison of babylonian and chinese conceptions of law

The amelu was originally a patrician, a man from an elite family, possessed of full civil rightswhose birth, marriage and death were registered. He had aristocratic privileges and responsibilities, and the right to exact retaliation for corporal injuries, but was liable to a heavier punishment for crimes and misdemeanourshigher fees and fines. To this class belonged the king and court, the higher officials, the professions and craftsmen.

Over time, the term became a mere courtesy title—already in the Code, when status is not concerned, it is used to denote anyone.

There was no property qualification, nor does the term appear to be racial. It is most difficult to characterize the mushkenu exactly.

The term in time came to mean "a beggar", and that meaning has passed through Aramaic and Hebrew into many modern languages; but though the Code does not regard him as necessarily poor, he may have been landless.

He was free but had to accept monetary compensation for corporal injuries, paid smaller fees and fines, and even paid less offerings to the gods. He inhabited a separate quarter of the city. There is no reason to regard him as specially connected with the court, as a royal pensioner, nor as forming the bulk of the population.

  1. Frazer made a certain form of regicide in which the divine king is sacrificed to ensure continued fertility and prosperity for the community a central element of divine kingship. The owner of an ox that gored a man on the street was only responsible for damages if the ox was known by him to be vicious—even if it caused death.
  2. Remnants still exist today with time and angular measurement. Hired labour[ edit ] Despite the multitude of slaves, hired labour was often needed, especially at harvest.
  3. The Sumerians of the Mesopotamian valley built home and temple decorated with artistic pottery and mosaics in geometric patterns. The creditor could only hold a wife or child three years as mancipium.

The rarity of any references to him in contemporary documents makes further specification conjectural. The ardu was a slave, his master's chatteland formed a very numerous class. He could acquire property and even own other slaves. His master clothed and fed him and paid his doctor's fees, but took all compensation paid for injury done to him.

His master usually found him a slave girl for a wife the children were then born slavesoften set him up in a house with farm or business and simply took an annual rent of him. Otherwise, he might marry a free woman the children were then freewho might bring him a dower that his master could not touch, and at his death, one-half of his property passed to his master as his heir.

He could acquire his freedom by purchase from his master, or might be freed and dedicated to a temple, or even adopted, when he became an amelu and not a mushkenu. Slaves were recruited by purchase abroad, from captives taken in war, or by freemen degraded for debt or crime.

A slave often ran away; if caught, the captor was bound to restore him to his master, and the Code fixes a reward of two shekels that the owner must pay the captor. It was about one-tenth of the average value of a slave. To detain or harbour a slave was punishable by death. So was aiding him to escape the city gates. A slave bore an identification mark, removable only by a surgical operation, that later consisted of his owner's name tattooed or branded on the arm. On the other hand, on the great estates in Assyria and its subject provinces there were many serfsmostly of subject race, settled captives, or quondam slaves ; tied to the soil they cultivated and sold with the estate, yet capable of possessing land and property of their own.

There is little trace of serfs in Babylonia, unless the mushkenu is really a serf. Citizens tenants of gods[ edit ] The god of a city was originally considered the owner of its land, which encircled it with an inner ring of irrigable arable land and an outer fringe of pasture; the citizens were his tenants. The god and his vice regent, the king, had long ceased to disturb tenancy and were content with fixed dues in naturaliastock, money or service. One of the earliest monuments records the purchase by a king of a large estate for his son, paying a fair market price and adding a handsome honorarium to the many owners, in costly garments, plate, and precious articles of furniture.

The Code recognizes complete private ownership of land but apparently extends the right to hold land to votaries and merchants; but all land sold was subject to its fixed charges. The king, however, could free land from these charges by charterwhich was a frequent way of rewarding those who deserved well of the state. It is from these charters that we learn of the obligations lying upon a comparison of babylonian and chinese conceptions of law.

Code Of Hammurabi Laws Compared To Today's Laws

A certain area was bound to provide a bowmantogether with his linked pikeman who bore the shield for bothand to furnish them with supplies for the campaign. This area was termed a "bow" as early as the 8th century BC, but the practice goes back much earlier. Later, a horseman was also due from certain areas. A man was only bound to serve a certain number of times, but the land still had to find a man annually.

This service was usually discharged by slaves and serfs, but the amelu and perhaps the mushkenu also went to war. The bows were grouped together in tens and hundreds. Special liabilities also lay upon riparian owners to repair canals, bridges, quays, etc. The letters of Hammurabi often deal with claims to exemption. Religious officials and shepherds in charge of flocks were exempt from military duty. The state claimed certain proportions of all crops, stock, etc.

The king's messengers could commandeer any subject's property, giving a receipt. Further, every city had its own octroi duties, customs, ferry dues, highway and water rates. The king had long ceased to be owner of the land, if he ever was. He had his own royal estates, his private property, and dues from all his subjects. The higher officials had endowments and official residences. The Code regulates the feudal position of certain classes.

They held an estate from the king, consisting of a house, a garden, a field, stock, and a salary, on condition of personal service on the king's errand. They could not delegate the service, on penalty of death. When ordered abroad, they could nominate a capable son to hold the benefice and carry on the duty. If there was no capable son, the state put in a locum tenens but granted one-third to the wife to maintain herself and her children.

The fief was otherwise inalienable; it could not be sold, pledged, exchanged, sublet, devised or diminished. Other land was leased from the state. Ancestral estate was strictly tied to the family. If a holder would sell, the family kept the right of redemptionand there seems to have been no time limit to its exercise.

Temple[ edit ] The temple occupied a most important position. It received income from its estates, from tithes and other fixed dues, as well as from the sacrifices a customary share and other offerings of the faithful—vast amounts of all sorts of naturalia, besides money and permanent gifts. The larger temples had many officials and servants.

Originally, perhaps, each town clustered round one temple, and each head of family had a right to minister there and share its receipts. As the city grew, the right to so many days a year at one shrine or its gate descended within certain families and became a kind of property that could be pledged, rented or shared within the family, but not alienated.

Despite all these demands, the temples became great granaries and storehouses and were also the city archives. The temple had its responsibilities. If a citizen was captured by the enemy and could not ransom himself, the temple of his city must do so. To the temple came the poor farmer to borrow seed, grain, or supplies for harvesters, etc. The king's power over the temple was not proprietarybut administrative. He might borrow from it, but repaid like other borrowers. The tithe seems to have been considered the rent due to the god for his land.

It is not clear that all lands paid tithe; perhaps only such as once had a special connection with a comparison of babylonian and chinese conceptions of law temple. The Code deals with a class of persons devoted to the service of a god, as vestals or hierodules. Property law[ edit ] The Code recognizes many ways of disposing of property: Sale was the delivery of a purchase in the case of real estatesymbolized by a staff, a key, or deed of conveyance in return for purchase money, receipts being given for both.

Credit, if given, was treated as a debt, and secured as a loan by the seller to be repaid by the buyer, for which he gave a bond. The Code only allows claims substantiated by documents, or in some cases the oath of witnesses. Saving contracts and receipts thus assumed a vital importance in Babylon - in fact it could literally be a matter of life or death.

Babylonian law

A buyer had to be sure of the seller's title. If purchased goods were stolen and the rightful owner reclaimed them, he had to prove his purchase by producing the seller and the deed of sale, or witnesses to it; otherwise, he would be adjudged a thief and die.

If he proved his purchase, he had to give up the property but could pursue a remedy against the seller or, if the seller had died, could reclaim fivefold from his estate. A man who bought a slave abroad might find that he had previously been stolen or captured from Babylonia; he would then have to restore him to his former owner without recompense.

If he bought property belonging to a feudal holding, or to a ward in Chanceryhe had to return it as well as forfeit what he paid for it. He could repudiate the purchase of a slave attacked by the bennu sickness within a month later, a hundred days and could hold a newly purchased female slave for three days "on approval". A defect of title, or an undisclosed liabilitywould invalidate a sale at any time.

  1. They could not alienate a single utensil.
  2. The married couple formed a single unit in terms of external responsibility, especially for debt.
  3. The judge saw the plea, called the other parties before him, and sent for the witnesses. The marriage ceremony included joining hands and the bridegroom uttering a formula of acceptance, such as, "I am the son of nobles, silver and gold shall fill thy lap, thou shalt be my wife, I will be thy husband.
  4. On his return, the lending merchant must give him a receipt for what was handed over to him. A considerable amount of forwarding advancing wares to the agent up front was done by the caravans.
  5. The judges at Babylon seem to have formed a superior court to those of provincial towns, but a defendant might elect to answer the charge before the local court and refuse to plead at Babylon. The carrier gave a receipt for the consignment, took all responsibility, and exacted a receipt upon delivery.

Leasing[ edit ] Landowners frequently cultivated their land themselves, but could also employ a husbandmanor rent it. The husbandman was bound to carry out proper cultivation, raise an average crop, and leave the field in good tilth.

In case the crop failed, the Code fixed a statutory return. Land might be leased at a fixed rent, where the Code stipulates that accidental loss fell on the tenant. If leased on profit-sharing terms, the landlord and tenant shared the loss proportionally to their stipulated share of profit. If the tenant paid his rent and kept the land in good tilth, the landlord could not interfere nor forbid subletting. Wasteland could be leased for reclamation, the tenant being rent-free for three years and paying a stipulated rent in the fourth year.

If the tenant neglected to reclaim the land, the Code stipulated that he must hand it over in good tilth and set a statutory rent. Gardens or plantations were leased in the same ways and under the same conditions; but for date groves, four years' free tenure was allowed. The metayer system was common, especially on temple lands.

The landlord found land, labour, oxen for ploughing and working the watering machines, carting, threshing or other implements, grain seed, rations for the workmen and fodder for the cattle. The tenantor steward, usually had other land of his own.

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If he stole the seed, rations or fodder, the Code stipulated that his fingers be cut off. If he appropriated or sold the implements, or impoverished or sublet the cattle, he was heavily fined and in default of payment, might be condemned to be torn to pieces by the cattle on the field. Rent was determined by contract. Irrigation was essential for farming in this region. If the irrigator neglected to repair his dike or left his runnel open and caused a flood, he had to make good the damage done to his neighbours' crops or be sold with his family to pay the cost.

The theft of a watering machine, water-bucket or other agricultural implement was heavily fined.