Intent of this work is to illustrate the Roman criminal law and its influence in the European legal filed after the collapse of the Roman Empire. The subject of the research is extensive in time and geographical area, so in each selected period only the main characteristics of law and historical circumstances are presented.
The greatest influence of Roman law in the field of criminal law can be seen in the medieval ecclesiastical procedure, so called Roman-canonical procedure, which is based on the Roman criminal law from the Imperial period. In prosecuting heresy, the church relied on the Roman system of torture adopted by secular Italian city courts, thus influencing legal theory and further legal development in Europe.
In the Byzantine Empire, in the first code following The Justinian's codification, the greatest deviation from Roman law is noticeable precisely in the field of criminal law.
In the area of the ruined western part of the Roman Empire circumstances in the late 11th century led to the renewed interest in Roman law. Roman law was incorporated into the law of Central and Western Europe in a historical process called the reception of Roman law. The work of the newly formed legal schools and the theoretical approach to the study of Justinian's codification manifested in development of legal science and the legal scientific method designed by Italian and partly French jurists, which accepted in various parts of Europe. Legal knowledge spread with learned jurists who put their knowledge of ius commune into practice. During the period of the first codifications of criminal law, the unification of law was the goal of absolutist rulers. Ius commune was the basis for unification and was reflected in the legislation of the time.