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GW Law Library
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Roman Law Research

The Twelve Tables

The Twelve Tables

During a period of social unrest, when some Romans felt that legal decisions were being arbitrarily decided, a push was made to write down the law in order to better anticipate how decisions would be made.  Thus a committee of ten men called the decemvirs was established in 451 BCE to write down the law for the first time. The work they produced in 449 BCE, the Twelve Tables, documented the centuries-old customary laws and became the foundation of Roman law as we know it. The Twelve Tables touched on many areas of law, not only the civil law that applied directly to citizens, but also areas such as public law and religious law, which applied to larger social constructs and institutions.


View a Timeline of Roman Law.

Twelve Tables- English Translations

Twelve Tables

Compilations of Roman Law- English Translations

Compilations of Roman Law