In commissioning and promulgating his famous Digest—part of his sixth-century legal compilation known as the Corpus Juris Civilis—the Emperor Justinian helped ensure that continental European law would be horizontal, written, scholarly, and historical. The Digest, drawing from classical Roman law, lay dormant for several centuries following Justinian's reign but then reemerged in the eleventh century to confirm those four characteristics. Significantly, it is that very combination of four characteristics that sharply distinguishes continental European law from both traditional Chinese law and English common law.

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