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that of a Prussian minor, who has entered into an oppressive contract with a money-lender in this country. He is over twenty-one, and is not entitled to relief on the ground of being an expectant heir, or in short on any ground except that of minority. VVhich would be the fairest course, to say to the Prussian: “You are of full age by the laws of this country, and therefore we will not relieve you against your contract,” or to treat him as we do our own minors, and allow him to repay the money at a fair rate of interest? Surely there can be no question as to which course ought to be adopted. No; look at it how we will, there can be no reasons for deviating in cases of contract from that first principle of comity, that the laws of status bind all domiciled citizens, in whatever country they may happen to be for the time being, and no one else but domiciled citizens. \Vithout resorting to any contrivances to evade this principle, and even without such a provision as is found in the Prussian code, we shall be perfectly able to protect our own citizens from injustice, if we remember first that we are not bound to recognize rules or institutions which are contrary to our own principles of morality; secondly, that though the capacity to contract depends upon the law of domicile, the validity of a contract is decided by the law of the place of the contract, and thirdly, that in all cases of fraud we have a perfect right to apply our own rules of procedure.
II.—THE CAPITULATIONS OF LESSER ARMENIA.
IN dealing with the question of the Capitulations, or
Exterritorial Privileges, of the Christian Nations of the VVest in the Ottoman Empire,* we showed their antiquity as between Christian and non-Christian Governments. The jealousy with which the \Vestern Nations, the heirs of the Roman Law, have guarded their juridical heritage even among Christian peoples in the East, affords at once a striking illustration of the abiding and overmastering influence of that great legal system, and a testimony to the differences of thought and culture which have kept the two streams apart, even where they might have been supposed most likely to mingle.
VVe propose giving a glance, in our present paper, at a portion of this field of enquiry, which we have reason to think but little trodden by Western Jurists, viz.: The Privileges obtained by the Genoese merchants in the Christian Kingdom of Lesser Armenia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The fact that the Kings, who conferred these Privileges, were themselves Christians, gives a special interest, it appears to us, to this Chapter of Legal History. It would constitute a very strong argument in favour of the existence of Capitulations as between the Western Nations and the early Ottoman Sultans, if our knowledge of their contemporaneous existence were not beyond doubt. And it does seem to us also to furnish something of an answer to the incompatibility which has been supposed by some to exist between a quasi-British rule in Cyprus, and the right to claim the non-desuetude of the Capitulations hitherto unquestionably in force in the dominions of the Ottoman Lord of the Isle of Cyprus.
"Law Magazine and Review, No. CCXXX., Nov., 1878, Art. “Law in Cyprus;" No. CCXXXL, Feb., 1879, Art.“ Cyprus and the Capitulations."
If Christian Kings in the Middle Ages could concede the many privileges which we are about to describe, amounting practically to an “ Imperium in Imperio,” why cannot more modest demands be allowed by a British Colonel, even when disguised under the temporary grandeur of a “ High Commissioner?” The Armenian Capitulations are certainly among the earliest of which we can trace the history. “ They afi'ord,_” says M. Langlois, in a learned Dissertation read by him before the Royal Academy of Turin,* to which we are indebted for drawing our attention to this subject, “the model of the most ancient Capitulalations which have governed Europeans in the East.” At atime when we are, outwardly at least, commencing to bestir ourselves in the matter of the serious responsibilities which we must be held to have undertaken under our vaguely defined Protectorate of Asia Minor, the story of the relations which existed some four or five centuries ago between Italian merchants and Cilician Kings can hardly fail to present some points of interest and instruction. The legal question, moreover, must very soon force itself to the front. What law, it may well be asked, will be administered in Asia Minor, under the sheltering aegis of Great Britain? Will it be the Law of the Koran, or the “ indigesta moles ” of the English Common Law? Shall we recognise any substantive existence of a National Law in the various subject communities, Greek, Armenian, perhaps also Georgian, and Persian, which are to be found scattered through the length and breadth of our new Protectorate? We want, it is presumed, to be the benefactors of Asia Minor—possibly also the patrons of a commerce and an intercourse between East and VVest that shall have a reflex action beneficial to our own commercial wealth. We want, it is presumed, to encourage and attract settlers, agriculturers, artizans, traders, and to revive the theory of a busy
.“Memorie delln Reale Accademia. delle Scienze di Torino," Serie Il., Tom. XIX. Torino. Stamperia Reale. 186:.
life where stagnation and decay have hitherto been the dominant features of once prosperous lands. This is, no doubt, an excellent and a philanthropic desire, but in order to bring it to fruition it is very certain that we must assure life and liberty, and the security of the person alike from the Kurdish marauder and the Turkish zaptieh. Let us now see how the Rupenian dynasty of Armenia set about the task of winning the confidence of Western traders and Western settlers at the period of greatest intellectual activity of the Middle Ages. The Capitulations were already an established fact at the close of the twelfth century : they were renewed and revised at different periods during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The chief points common to all the revisions seem to have been the followirig:—1. Arrangement of the Customs dues to be exacted on foreign goods; 2. Settlement of the right of wreck ; 3. Rights of testation, and succession ab intestato; 4. Civil and Criminal Procedure ; 5. The Law of Status. Before any of these Privileges were granted, the Kingdom of Lesser Armenia had been organised on the full feudal system of Western Europe, or rather perhaps even more closely on the lines of the Latin Kingdoms of Cyprus and Jerusalem, and the Principality of Antioch, in a feudalism of which we have recently gained a fuller insight through the publication by the Armenian monks of S. Lazzaro, in Venice. of the “ Assises d’Antioche."* It is specially interesting to note that Sempad, “the servant of God, Constable of Armenia, and Lord of Paparon, son of Constantine, and brother of Hetlioum, the pious King of Armenia,” who was unquestionably the translator into French of the “ Assises of Antioch,” was living at the time of the principal Capitulations granted by the Kings of Lesser Armenia, to the merchants of Genoa and Venice. In these Assises we find discussed most of the various questions regarding the relations between the lord and his vassal, which could have arisen in feudal Europe; e.g., how the vassal is to be punished for leaving his lord without permission, how the lord may seize the goods of his vassal, and other such “ questions brfilantes” of feudalism. In Antioch, as in Lesser Armenia, we find the civic and commercial elements holding a prominent place. Besides the"‘ Assises de la Haute Cour ” we have also the “ Assises des Bourgeois,” in which are considered questions of the Law of Status, and therein “ first of all of the marriages and alliances of burgesses and merchants, because of such marriages and alliances spring the beginnings of every kind of increase.” This “increase” leads the compiler of the “Assises of Antioch ” into the discussion of many branches of Law—Civil, Commercial, and Criminal. We hear of criminal suits for wounding and for homicide, both as between men of the same blood and strangers; we also hear of taking cases concerning Patrimony into Court, and concerning the sale and hypothecation of Patrimony, the lease of houses according to the Assise, or according to the usage of Antioch, the law of weights and measures, the buying and selling of bankers, and the traffic of merchants in imports and exports, according to the laws and usages of Antioch.
1* “ Assises d’Antioche, Reproduites en Francais et Publiées au 6°"‘° Centenaire de la Mort de Sempad le Connétable." Venise. Imp. Arménienne, 1876. ‘(Noticed in the “ Revue Générale du Droit." Paris, Thorin, for MarchApril, 1877, by M. Joseph Lefort, Laureate of the Institute.)
From this brief conspectus of the importance of mercantile affairs in the Principality of Antioch, we may judge of the strength of the reasons which induced the Kings of Lesser Armenia to grant very extensive privileges to Western merchants establishing themselves in the Ports of Cilicia. Of these privileges there seem to have been two classes, those accorded to what we may call the most favoured nations, such as were enjoyed by the Genoese and Venetians, and those which were deemed sufficient for nations whose traffic was occasional or limited, as was the case with the