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8 / 2014
Istorie si studii culturale
A juristic writing from the beginning of the 19th century
In 1805, the young lawyer and literate Vasile Aaron compiled a legal guidebook to be used by the councils of Romanian “Eastern law” churches in Transylvania. The author’s intention was clearly to publish his work, as proven by the word “booklet” which he used to describe it in his address To the Readership (dated October 1st, 1805) and by further information provided by a 1806 letter written by Samuil Micu. However, sharing the fate of many writings of that era, the work was never printed and circulated in form of hand-written copies. Although Aaron’s work has been reported as extant and in use in 1868, at the National Orthodox Congress in Sibiu, studies on canon law and histories of Romanian law both failed to capitalize this information. The work made a timid entrance into scientific circles in 1941, when Professor Semproniu Lupaş described a copy carried out in 1843 by an archpriest in Apoldu de Sus, near Sibiu. However, beyond having its title mentioned along with the rest of Aaron’s works, the manuscript never benefitted from a substantial analysis of its contents. According to Semproniu Lupaş, Vasile Aaron was “the first author of a juristic work written in Romanian language”. Nevertheless, his work was not merely a legal guidebook for church consistories. The “Praxis of church councils”, as it has come to be known, provided Romanian clergy for decades in as row with information and know-how regarding the jurisdictional system in the Principality of Transylvania and the various procedures to be followed during a lawsuit. Also, Aaron’s pioneering work contributed significantly to the formation of a Romanian legal language. Beyond the technical aspects, the “Praxis” is a valuable information source regarding its time and people, allowing today´s researchers to get a deeper understanding of the vast and complex area covered by the actions of the Transylvanian school “enlighteners”.
Keywords: Vasile Aaron, legal guidebook, canon law, church legal councils, Semproniu Lupaş, manuscript, Romanian legal language
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