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In that year they invaded the territory of the Ostrogoths in southern Russia. The Ostrogoths moved west and put pressure on the Visigoths, who in 376 were allowed to settle within the Empire in Thrace with promises of food and land. Unfortunately they were shortchanged and treated with contempt by Roman officials. Desperate and on the brink of starvation they united with the Ostrogoths and defeated and killed the eastern Emperor Valens, at Adrianople in 378. 21 The Emperor Theodosius (379-95) bought off the Visigoths and Ostrogoths but after he died nothing could restrain the Visigoths and their leader Alaric.

It gave corporations the right to hold property, to sue and be sued, and laid down rules for the election of office bearers and the winding up of the institution. 27 It was in 438 that the eastern Emperor Theodosius II collected all the constitutions since the time of Constantine (d. 337) and arranged them in sixteen books covering every aspect of law in what became known as the Theodosian Code. This was promulgated as law in the east and adopted in the west by Valentinian III. A far more ambitious attempt to reform and codify Roman law was undertaken a century later by Justinian.

In England, because the Anglo-Saxon invasions of the fifth century broke the link with Rome, a 'primitive confusion' of Germanic customary law governed society until Roman law returned with the Norman conquest in the eleventh century, contributing, with preconquest French and Anglo-Saxon law, to the development in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries of English common law. This common law was based not on codes but on case law following the principle of stare decisis. The principle was designed to overcome arbitrary decisions by justices, and the consequences were not only that a uniform legal system was obtained by the ruling of justices rather than Roman law, but the rulings formed the basis of the system of precedent in decision making which would henceforward underlie the development of the English legal system, 30 differentiating it from developments on the continent.

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