Roman emperors Arcadius, Honorius, and Theodosius II expand to the whole empire a recent law enforcing orthodoxy which had only been circulated in Africa.
The law specifically singles out Manichaeans and Donatists, but serves to defend orthodoxy against any and all challenges.
According to this Roman law:
"We pursue, with exemplary severity, Manicheans of both sexes, and Donatists. Therefore, they have nothing in common with the human race, so far as either customs or laws are concerned.
(1) We desire, in the first place, that their offense should be classed as a public crime, because whatever is committed against the divine religion is productive of injury to all persons.
(2) We punish them by the confiscation of all their property, and We wish them to be excluded from obtaining any gift or inheritance of any description whatsoever.
(3) In addition to this, We deprive anyone found guilty of these heresies of the power of giving, purchasing, selling, and finally, of making any contracts.
(4) An investigation of this kind shall also extend beyond death, for, as it is permitted to denounce the memory of the deceased in case of treason, it is not unreasonable that a heretic should undergo the same sentence.
(5) Therefore, the last will of a person convicted of having been a Manichean, whether it is manifested by a testament, a codicil, a letter, or in any other way whatsoever, shall be void.
(6) We do not permit their children to succeed them as heirs, or to enter upon their estates, unless they abandon the perverseness of their fathers, for We pardon those who repent.
(7) Our authority is also directed against those who, with solicitude worthy of condemnation, harbor them in their houses.
(8) We desire, moreover, that slaves should be free who, escaping from a sacrilegious master, pass with more faithful service into the Catholic church." [CI 1.5.4]
Manichaeans are followers of a Persian prophet named Mani and their religious system is an amalgamation of elements form Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism. Manichaeans believe that our world is locked in a struggle between good and evil, light and dark.
Donatism is a heretical Christian sect which got its start in Africa as a consequence of the persecutions under emperor Diocletian. The Donatists, named after one of their leaders Bishop Donatus Magnus, believe that any sacraments performed by any Christian who collaborated with the Roman government in Africa — for example, by handing over Christian scriptures to officials for destruction — is invalid