The Progressive Judiciary of Mkhitar Gosh

The Progressive Judiciary of Mkhitar GoshMkhitar Gosh’s judiciary was quite progressive for its time. The progressivity of a product determines its ability to adapt to a developing society. This condition implies a constant dynamic development of the product in time.

In other words, if the product is progressive at some point, then it is progressive for all times. One needs to only make additions to this product from time to time for it to work further.

This kind of scheme operates, for example, in the US, where the basic laws have been unchanged for 200 years. However, from time to time, it is corrected by the necessary additions.

It turns out that the Armenians, having an almost ready system guaranteeing the development of society and, most importantly, social justice for thousand years, are engaged in a talentless invention of a three-wheeled bicycle.

The Progressive Judiciary of Mkhitar Gosh

In 1184, the outstanding thinker, statesman, and theologian Mkhitar Gosh created the first Armenian secular judiciary. Its full name is “Religious and civil laws, mainly on the basis of the codes of Theodosius and Justinian.”

This book consists of three parts with 254 legal articles. It contains church canons and borrowed Byzantine laws as well as some requirements of the traditional Armenian way of life.

For his era, Mkhitar Gosh’s judiciary was quite progressive. For example, Gosh called for a restriction of the absolute arbitrariness of feudal lords. “God created the human nature to be free. Dependence on the lords was due to the need of land and water. But the human is as free before the law as before God.”

For the first time, the judiciary of Mkhitar Gosh received legal status in the 13th century in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. In the 18th century, it was translated to Georgian and entered the collection of laws compiled by King Vakhtang VI. In 1832, the incomplete translation of the book was included in the first edition of the Digest of Laws of the Russian Empire.


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