Vasile Lupu’s Code of Laws


Carte românească de învăţătură de la pravilele împărăteşti şi de la alte giudeaţe (Romanian book of instruction from the imperial statutes and other judicial pronouncements), also known as Pravila lui Vasile Lupu (Vasile Lupu’s code of laws), is the first official codification of civil law in Moldavia (present-day Romania). It is also the country’s earliest printed legal code in the Romanian language. It lays down aspects of agricultural and criminal law while still acknowledging local customary law. Vasile Lupu (1593‒1661) was the voivode (military commander and governor) of Moldavia from 1634 to 1653. The first part of the code contains a series of laws on rural life. Its language and translation are largely based on a collection of Byzantine law drawn up in the eighth century by Emperors Leo III and Constantin V, with elements extracted from the sixth-century Code of Justinian. The second part is linked to the Italian juridical literature of the late Middle Ages and includes chapters on criminal offenses. The translator of the book is Logothete Eustratie (died 1646 or 1647), a polyglot scholar of history and politics, and an expert of Byzantine law. The sources used are not expressly named but have been identified by scholars as including the Leges colonariae (Colonial laws) of Byzantine emperor Justinian II (669‒711); extracts from Johannes Leunclavius’s work, Jus Graeco-Romanum (Greco-Roman law) published in Frankfurt in 1596; and Prospero Farinacci’s Praxis et theoricae criminalis (On criminal theory and practice) published in Venice and Frankfurt in 1595‒1610. Pravila lui Vasile Lupu was included in the “Correction of the Law” by Matei Basarab, Voivode of Wallachia (present-day Romania) from 1632 to 1654, printed in Targoviste in 1652. As a consequence, since the mid-17th century the Romanian lands have had one legislative basis.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Monastery of the Three Hierarchs, Iaşi, Romania


Title in Original Language

Carte românească de învăţătură de la pravilele împărăteşti şi de la alte giudeaţe


Type of Item

Physical Description

186 pages : 30 centimeters


  1. Agnes Erich, “365 years since the printing of Vasile Lupu’s Code of Laws (Pravila lui Vasile Lupu)” Studii de Biblioteconomie şi Ştiinţa Informării (Bucharest: University of Bucharest, 2011).

Last updated: May 31, 2016