Normative legal acts regulating religious legal relations in the Roman Empire in I-IV centuries and their practical application towards the Roman foederati

Keywords: Freedom of Faith, legal acts of princepces, legal act of dominuses


The article is focused on the analysis of the I-IV centuries legal acts of the Roman principes and domini regulating non-Roman religions and further application of these acts at the territories of the Roman Empire’s foedereati.

Religious edicts of Gaius Octavianus Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Traianus, Septimius Severus, Diocletian, Galerius and Constantine are examined. Prolonged edict of Gaius Julius Caesar’s edict “Against druids” is examined also.

The article analyses possible reasons behind the acts based on the social, political, military, and economic situation in the Roman state and taking into account personal views and subjective behavior of the emperors.

Further on the article studies the practice of following the bans embodied in the edicts at the various territories of the Roman state by the high governmental officials, who represented Roman power at the mentioned territories, as well as by the representatives of local state powers and self-government.

This practice has been taking into account the views of the Roman powers on the territory’s “safety” or “troublesomeness”, amounts of the local cults’ followers, religious composition of the local population.

Conclusion is made that during the period of I-IV centuries the Roman laws regulated religious relations amongst non-Roman population occasionally and with no specific significance.

Bans on certain religion were often found to be applied only at the central regions of the state and to be silently ignored at the periferia.

Despite of the general centripetal trends in the sphere of administration the freedom of faith was generally guaranteed to the Roman state’s foederati.

In the period of the Empire the Romans, including high officials, not only allowed local cults attendance but could also become a follower themselves, a situation firmly unwelcomed during the Republican period.

Religious repressions of the period of I-IV centuries were occasional and were grounded not on the doctrinal-philosophical or divine reasons but on the pragmatic and realistic state and social necessities.


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How to Cite
Tsvietkova, Y. (1). Normative legal acts regulating religious legal relations in the Roman Empire in I-IV centuries and their practical application towards the Roman foederati. Law Review of Kyiv University of Law, (2), 33-39.
State and law theory and history. Philosophy of law