NOVELS, civil law. The name given to some constitutions or laws of some of
the Roman emperors; this name was so given because they were new or
posterior to the laws which they had before published. The novels were made
to supply what bad not been foreseen in the preceding laws, or to amend or
alter the laws in force.
2. Although the novels of Justinian are the best known, and when the
word novels only is mentioned, those of Justinian are always intended, he
was not the first who gave the name of novels to his constitution and laws.
Some of the acts of Theodosius, Valentinien, Leo, Severus, Anthemius, and
others, were, also called novels. But the novels of the emperors who
preceded Justinian bad not the force of law, after the enactment of the law
by order of that emperor. Those novels are not, however, entirely useless,
because the code of Justinian having been composed mainly from the
Theodosian code and the novels, the latter frequently remove doubts which
arise on the construction of the code. The novels of, Justinian form the
fourth part of the Corpus Juris Civilis. They are directed either to some,
officer, or an archbishop or bishop, or to some private individual of
Constantinople but they all had the force and authority of law. The number
of the novels is uncertain. The 118th novel is the foundation and groundwork
of the English statute of distribution of intestate's effects, which has
been copied into many states of the Union. Vide 1 P. Wms. 27; Pr. in Chan.