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ICDH > MEMORY OF THE WORLD > International Register

International Register

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Constitutio Antoniniana
Constitutio Antoniniana - Post view
Region / Country - Europe • North America > Gerrmany
Year of Registration 2017
Possessing Institutions University Library of the Justus Liebig University Giessen
Management Institution University Library of the Justus Liebig University Giessen
The papyrus being proposed for nomination contains the world’s single surviving copy of the Constitutio Antoniniana, the first in a series of world-historically important documents of the history of civil and human rights as well as constitutional history, including the Magna Charta (1215), the Golden Bull of Emperor Charles IV (1356) or the Declaration of Human and Civil Rights by the French National Assembly (1789), which are all inscribed on the Memory of the World Register and related to human rights.

The Constitutio Antoniniana (212/3), which had been promulgated by the emperor Caracalla in order to unite Roman society in a crisis situation, gave Roman civil rights to all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire. Thus, for the first time in world history, there was established a unitary citizenship in an area that included millions of people from different cultural backgrounds on three continents (Europe, Africa, and Asia). At the same time, people kept their current status: existing civil rights and local legal traditions were explicitly guaranteed, according to Roman legal tradition. In contrast to many other civil rights concessions in history, the measure was not oriented towards a specific European centre nor was it based upon a national constitution. It thus forms a unique historical reference point when it comes to the question of civil rights and civic membership in transnational and global networks.

In this sense, it serves to establish civic identity far beyond the borders of Europe. It deserves, therefore, worldwide attention. Based on the extraordinary importance of the Constitutio Antoniniana, it is our goal to anchor in the public consciousness the outstanding opportunities that the exploration of the ancient world offers for dealing with global political issues in the future. According to the scholars, the existence of a comparable document may be excluded without any doubt. They also agree on the improbability of the existence of a second copy that has survived from antiquity and might be found some day.