What does Capitis Diminutio minima mean? Why is it so important to know about this? What is the purpose of it? And why is this so secretly hidden for such a long time? In this blog I will try and give you a few answers, or at least a few links to other sites that enable you to investigate for yourself.
The Law dictionary describes capitis diminutio (the general description) as follows:
“In Roman law, A diminishing or abridgment of personality. Tills was a loss or curtailment of a man’s status or aggregate of legal attributes and qualifications, following upon certain changes in his civil condition. It was of three kinds, enumerated as follows: Capitis diminutio maxima. The highest or most comprehensive loss of status. This occurred when a man’s condition was changed from one of freedom to one of bondage, when he became a slave. It swept away with it all rights of citizenship and all family rights. Capitis diminutio media. A lesser or medium loss of status. This occurred where a man lost his rights of citizenship, but without losing his liberty. It carried away also the family rights. Capitis diminutio minima. The lowest or least comprehensive degree of loss of status. This occurred where a man’s family relations alone were changed. It happened upon the arrogation of a person who had been his own master, (sui juris,) or upon the emancipation of one who had been under the patria potestas. It left the rights of liberty and citizenship unaltered.”
Let us take a closer look on capitis diminutio minima. It means that there is no loss of status. In Roman law, this concerned the free Romans, or the aristocracy. This occurred where a man’s family relations alone were changed. It happened upon the arrogation [pride] of a person who had been his own master, (sui juris,) [of his own right, not under any legal disability] or upon the emancipation of one who had been under the patria potestas [Parental authority]. It left the rights of liberty and citizenship unaltered.
In the modern era, the meaning of capitis diminutio minima is virtually the same as in the Roman era. Modern man, under this status, has no master and no one to answer to for his actions. Not even Maritime Law applies to a free man. This means that everyone under capitis diminutio minma is free to go where he or she wants. A person, who has reclaimed their name under capitis diminutio minima, cannot be deprived of their liberty, nor be summoned, exorbitantly fined or be prosecuted in any way. This means that the rule of law does NOT apply to a free man.
So, capitis diminutio minima means no loss of rights whatsoever (in comparison, see capitis diminutio maxima and capitis diminutio media). Again, everything is connected to the use of your name. Where capitis diminutio maxima writes your full name (last name as well as first name) in capitals, and capitis diminutio media writes your name partially in capitals (usually only your last name or family name), capitis diminutio minima writes your name ONLY in lowercase. Through capitis diminutio (especially maxima), companies can trade under YOUR NAME while maritime law rules!
Most of us, with a number of exceptions, are born on solid ground. Then how does maritime law apply to all of us under capitis diminutio? Find out for yourself, do some research and decide for yourself which action is proper to take, in your particular case.