Nexum Transaction in Roman Law

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Ozyildirim M.

ISTANBUL HUKUK MECMUASI, vol.80, no.1, pp.177-211, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 80 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/mecmua.2022.80.1.0006
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.177-211
  • Keywords: Nexum, Per aes et libram, Lex Poetelia Papiria, Execution without Judgment, Debt Bondage, Formal Loan Contract
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


From ancient sources, the nexum transaction was commonly used in the archaic period of Roman law. This nexum transaction has been used extensively for centuries; however, we do not have any primary sources on what nexum was and how it was made. There was also no consensus on this issue among Roman writers who lived centuries after the transaction had taken place. The only certain thing that we know about nexum is that people who entered debt because of this transaction were subjected to pain and abuse. These exploits that continued for many years caused a great plebeian revolt in the 4th century BC and nexum lost all its importance in practice after the law called Lex Poetelia Papiria that was enacted as a result of this debt bondage. Disagreements and contradictions among historical sources have caused various theories to be put forward on nexum in the modern Roman law doctrine. Two important theories were propounded by Huschke and Mitteis about nexum transactions. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study is to reach a possible synthesis by focusing on the significant aspects of the different views propounded about nexum, which has been discussed in Roman law doctrine for nearly 150 years. Thus, both the historical sources and the principal contemporary views were examined in detail in this study.