Karl Eduard Zachariae (December 24, 1812 - June 3, 1894), was an eminent jurist and the son of Karl Salomo Zachariae von Lingenthal.
He studied philosophy, history, mathematics and linguistics, as well as jurisprudence, at Leipzig, Berlin and Heidelberg.
Having made Roman and Byzantine law his special study, he visited Paris in 1832 to examine Byzantine MSS., went in 1834 to St. Petersburg and Copenhagen for the same purpose, and in 1835 worked in the libraries of Brussels, London, Oxford, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cambridge.
After a few months as a practising lawyer and privatdozent at Heidelberg, he went in 1837, in search of materials, to Italy and the East, visiting Athens, Constantinople and the monasteries of Mount Athos.
Having a taste for a country life, and none for teaching, he gave up his position as extraordinary professor at Heidelberg, and in 1845 bought an estate in the Prussian province of Saxony. Here he lived, engaged in scientific agriculture and interested in Prussian politics, until his death.
Works and studies
Zachariae produced an enormous mass of works of great importance for students of Byzantine law. The task to which he devoted his life was, to discover and classify the sources of Byzantine law hidden away in the libraries of the East and West; to re-edit, in the light of modern criticism, those sources which had already been published; to write the history of Byzantine law on the basis of this hitherto undiscovered material; and finally, to apply the results to the scientific elucidation of the Justinian law.
His Jus Graeco-Romanum ("Greek-Roman law"), of which the first part was published in 1856, the last in 1891, is among the best and most complete collections of the sources of Byzantine law and of the Novels from the time of Justin II to 1453. On the general history of the subject he wrote two epoch-making works, the Historiae Graeco-Romani juris delineatio, cum appendice ineditorum (Heidelberg, 1839), and Innere Geschichte des grieschisch-römischen Rechts (I. Personalrecht; II. Erbrecht; III. Die Geschichte des Sachenrechts und Obligations-recht) (Leipzig, 1856), the third edition of which appeared under the title Geschichte des griechisch-römischen Rechts (1892).
In this last work, which covered ground hitherto unexplored, Byzantine is treated as a development of Justinian law, and incidentally many obscure points in the economic and agrarian conditions of the Eastern empire are elucidated.