The Evolution of Roman Guardianship through the Mechanism of excusatio tutelae

Emmanuelle Chevreau
Designed as closely related to patria potestas, guardianship was formally understood as an aspect of potestas and a right exercised in the interest of the protected person until she or he reached puberty. Starting from the Principate, the initial approach to guardianship and to the role of the guardian starts to change. Guardianship potestas tended to shift into a guardianship similar to a charge (munus). Imperial policy then tended to harmonize the three types of guardianship following the
more » ... p following the model of the guardianship by magisterial appointment , in other words the idea was to coerce the guardian and in particular the testamentary guardian into making difficult for him to avoid the burden, accepting it and managing it efficiently. The purpose of this paper is not to analyse Marcus Aurelius' generalisation (followed through by successive emperors) of the system of excuses, extended it to all types of guardianship, and forcing guardians to accept the office. This contribution rather focuses on the search for the correct balance between the wards' interests and the guardians' capacity to carry out his mandate effectively and efficiently. This is what we can deduct from a study of the rich casuistic dealing with the excuse grounds and from the shift of guardianship towards the category of civilian charges.