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A Glossary of the Juridical Terms in Medieval Bulgaria

Ivan Biliarsky, Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria, Summer Fellow 2006

The aim of my project is to study law as a cultural phenomenon, related to the primary values of a civilization. Law itself is a value and is respected as a value, one necessary for the very existence of civilization. Every civilization creates its own normative system, based on its own values, and at the same time being part of them and serving as their protector. The legal norms are a means of creating solidarity from a simple collected group. This would mean that law is a factor in the creation of a group with common identity, based on common values, common cults, common power, and, unavoidably, a normative system in common. This shared normative system imposes common models of behavior in every sphere of common life, including both the everyday and the deviant.

Every culture has its own manner of communication. Such communication can take place in different languages but always in the same primary context. It expresses itself in the same manner. On the other hand, culture creates not only a common expression and ultimately an internal language of communication, but also a common professional jargon. The norm is a text, which imposes a certain model of behavior and as a text has its linguistic character. Thus, language has a special importance in the legal domain.

Having been converted to Orthodox Christianity, Bulgaria entered the Byzantine Commonwealth; this development inevitably led to the reception of Byzantine law and legal language. It is exactly this process that is the main focus of the research within my project. Studies on the legal language up to now have usually been carried out by philologists and this presupposes that their goals are very different from the expected results of my research. To my best knowledge, such research has been previously pursued only with regard to Western European legal texts.

I plan to finish my project by the end of this year (2006) and to publish it as a book.