PRAVNI ZAPISI • Year XI • No. 1 • pp. 121-140

SERBIAN MEDIAEVAL LAW ON WILLS AND SUCCESSION

Language: English

Prof. dr Srđan Šarkić
Professor-Retired, University of Novi Sad Law School
e-mail: srdjansarkic@gmail.com

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Pravni zapisi, No. 1/2020, pp. 121-140

Original Scientific Article

DOI: 10.5937/pravzap0-25728

KEY WORDS
Law Code of Stefan Dušan, Procheiron,“Zakon gradski”, Syntagma of Matheas Blastares, testate succession, intestate succession, will

ABSTRACT
Serbian legal sources have limited data on the law of wills and succession: no will was preserved and the Law Code of Stefan Dušan regulated intestate succession only in articles 41 and 48. It seems that the commoner class (sebri), living mostly in extended families, inherited their property according to the rules of customary law, while the noblemen accepted provisions of Byzantine law. In Serbian legal miscellanies, translated from Greek, the institutes of testate and in- testate succession were thoroughly presented. The so called Zakon gradski (Serbian translation  of  Procheiron)  contains  12  chapters  referring  to  the  law  of  succession and the Syntagma of Matheas Blastares placed all provisions on testate and intestate succession in chapter K – 12 under the title “On heirs and the disherison of sons or parents”. Byzantine law on intestate succession kept all the basic principles of Justinian’s legislation. Serbian sources only mention intestate succession of hereditary estates (so- called  baština)  belonging  to  the  noblemen  class,  but  according  to  some  fragments from  Serbian  charters  we  can  conclude  that  the  estates  could  be  inherited  even  in the commoner’s class. The fact that not a single will remained in Serbian mediaeval law does not mean that it was unknown in Serbia. Sources mention its existence using Slavonic terms “zavet” and “zaveštanije” and sometimes a Greek word “diatax”, while a freedom of disposition by testament was expressed by the formula “given for the soul” (“za dušu odati”).