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Kanun and Albania

By | April 2012
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In accordance to Kanun - about a common law in Albania
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Karolina Bielenin

A common law is a set of norms, prohibitions and obligations, that functions in a tradition and - in reference to the Roman law - is the will of the people. In many countries, it became an official and institutional legislation or functions beside it. It is also taken into account while creating the international law. In Albania, the common law, so called Kanun, still exists. The term comes from Greek and means 'rule, measure'. There is also an old Albanian word 'doke' that comes from 'dukem', which means 'to occur, to behave'. So the plural form from 'doket' signifies 'a set of rules, which defines how one should behave in presence of acquaintances and strangers'. The most commonly known version is the Leka Dukagjini Kanun that comes from 15th C. It was drawn up by the Franciscan from Kosovo - Shtjefën Gjeçov - in the 30s. of 20th C. It was published after his death by his brethren. Lekë Dukagjini (1410-1481) was the Albanian priest and the companion in arms of Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg, the national hero of Albania. Of course, Dukagjini is not the author of the Kanun - its name comes from a set of rules collected in an area that he administered. There was a great number of Kanuns - another commonly known is the one from a smaller area - Skanderbeg's Kanun. The first notice about the Albanian law comes from the Vatican documents of 13th C. One may find the elements of Ilirs' law in Kanun, but also sharia - the Muslim law. The similarity to a set of rules from the northern Caucasus occurs. The question occurs whether Kanun has some common origin with the Caucasus one, or whether it was borrowed? Or maybe it is the evidence for the universalism of a human's thought? The common law regulates all events of life, from birth till death. It also defines precisely the laws and obligations of particular people and establishes their status in a...

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