A thematic exhibition “... To Everyone Now Living and for the Future Generations”, dedicated to the 455th anniversary of the adoption of the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1566 is on show in the Legal Information Reading Room (room 207b) from October 25 to January 10.
The Grand Duke Sigismund II Augustus gave his consent in November 1551 for the establishment of a legislative committee to improve the Statute of 1529. Mikalaj Radziwill Chorny became the head of the commission. Augustus Rotundus and Peter Roizius, "doctors of foreign law," played a very important role in the statute drafting. The work on the second Statute lasted more than ten years.
The second Statute included the norms of almost all branches of law that existed at that time; they were recorded in 14 sections and 267 articles. The adopted document turned out to be larger in volume than the Statute of 1529, better in the systematization of materials and the level of codification techniques.
The systematization of the legislation of the Statute of 1566 was based on principles already established by the previous act: state sovereignty, rule of law, limitation of the power of the monarch, etc. The Statute laid down the principles of presumption of innocence and separation of powers. The entire Statute was permeated by the idea of strengthening the rule of law and subordination to the law of all subjects of law, including the monarch. Among the most important provisions of the Statute are those of a constitutional nature, which strengthened the sovereignty of the state, its territorial integrity, and the rights and duties of the citizens.
The Statute of 1566, like previous laws, secured the separation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from Poland. Its norms obliged the prince to care for the territorial integrity of the Duchy, proclaimed the equality of all before the law and stressed that all subjects of the state had to be judged by "the same written law", although the law itself was not equal for all. The Statute of 1566 was written in Belarusian, a language understood by the common people, and was translated several times into Latin, Polish, German, Russian and other languages. The statute was first published in Cyrillic in 1855 in the journal “Vremennik of the Imperial Society of Russian History and Antiquities”, and in 1900, it was printed again in Polish and Latin in Krakow.
There are 58 handwritten texts of the Statute: 13 in Belarusian, 40 in Polish and 5 in Latin. The Statute of 1566 marked a new stage in the development of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the field of state law, which was strongly influenced by political and legal thought. The Statute served as a model for the systematisation of legislation for a long time. Many of its provisions were far ahead of their time and had a pronounced programmatic and forward-looking character, making it one of the most progressive European laws of its time.
The exhibition is intended for researchers, teachers, graduate students and students of law and history departments, political scientists – for everyone who is interested in the national history of state and law.
There are more than 70 documents in the exhibition, including books, periodicals, electronic optical discs.
The exhibition includes the following thematic sections:
- Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania of 1566 – an important stage in the legal development of Belarus
- Second Lithuanian Statute: to the history of the drafting and adoption
- The role of the Statute of 1566 in the development of domestic constitutional law
- Establishment of the Judicial System under the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania of 1566
- Development of criminal law and criminal procedure in the Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th century
- Legal regulation of the main institutions of civil and family law in Belarus under the Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
- Legal terminology and linguistic features of the 1566 Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The books presented at the exhibition can be ordered through the electronic catalogue of the National Library of Belarus.
Official Documents Service Department