What is CAPITIS DIMINUTIO?

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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. Tile 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. See Inst. 1, 1G, pr.; 1, 2, 3; Dig. 4, 5, 11; Mackeld. Rom. Law.

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