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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Which might be named imperfect proprietorship


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those of many authors in the

present day are not less erroneous. We think it right, in this place, to develop the system of property among the Romans, as the result of the study of the extant original authorities on the ancient law, and as it has been demonstrated, recognized, and adopted by the most learned expositors of the Roman law. Besides the authorities formerly known, such as the Fragments of Ulpian, t. xix. and t. i. 16. Theoph. Paraph. i. 5, 4, may be consulted the Institutes of Gaius, i. 54, and ii. 40, et seq. The Roman laws protected all property acquired in a lawful manner. They imposed on those who had invaded it, the obligation of making restitution and reparation of all damage caused by that invasion; they punished it moreover, in many cases, by a pecuniary fine. But they did not always grant a recovery against the third person, who had become bona fide possessed of the property. He who had obtained possession of a thing belonging to another, knowing nothing of the prior rights of that person, maintained the possession. The law had expressly determined those cases, in which it permitted property to be reclaimed from an innocent possessor. In these cases possession had the characters of absolute proprietorship, called mancipium, jus Quiritium. To possess this right, it was not sufficient to have entered into possession of the thing in any manner; the acquisition was bound to have that character of publicity, which was given by the observation of solemn forms, prescribed by the laws, or the
uninterrupted exercise of proprietorship during a certain time: the Roman citizen alone could acquire this proprietorship. Every other kind of possession, which might be named imperfect proprietorship, was called "in bonis habere." It was not till after the time of Cicero that the general name of Dominium was given to all proprietorship. It was then the publicity which constituted the distinctive character of absolute dominion. This publicity was grounded on the mode of acquisition, which the moderns have called Civil, (Modi adquirendi Civiles.) These modes of acquisition were, 1. Mancipium or mancipatio, which was nothing but the solemn delivering over of the thing in the presence of a determinate number of witnesses and a public officer; it was from this probably that proprietorship was named, 2. In jure cessio, which was a solemn delivering over before the praetor. 3. Adjudicatio, made by a judge, in a case of partition. 4. Lex, which comprehended modes of acquiring in particular cases determined by law; probably the law of the xii. tables; for instance, the sub corona emptio and the legatum. 5. Usna, called afterwards usacapio, and by the moderns prescription. This was only a year for movables; two years for things not movable. Its primary object was altogether different from that of prescription in the present day. It was originally introduced in order to transform the simple possession of a thing (in bonis habere) into Roman proprietorship. The public and uninterrupted possession of a thing, enjoyed for the space of one or two years, was sufficient to make known to the inhabitants of the city of Rome to whom the thing belonged. This last


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