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Encyclopedia > Napoleonic code
First page of the 1804 original edition.
First page of the 1804 original edition.

The Napoleonic Code, or Code Napoléon (originally called the Code civil des Français) was the French civil code, established under Napoléon I. It was drafted rapidly by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on March 21, 1804. Even though the Napoleonic code was not the first legal code to be established in a European country with a civil legal system — it was preceded by the Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis (Bavaria, 1756), the Allgemeines Landrecht (Prussia, 1792) and the West Galician Code, (Galicia, then part of Austria, 1797) — it is considered the first successful codification[citation needed] and strongly influenced the law of many other countries. The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in establishing the rule of law. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (636x762, 54 KB) Code Civil des Français, 1804, original edition Scanned image on Gallica File links The following pages link to this file: Napoleonic code ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (636x762, 54 KB) Code Civil des Français, 1804, original edition Scanned image on Gallica File links The following pages link to this file: Napoleonic code ... A civil code is a systematic compilation of laws designed to comprehensively deal with the core areas of private law. ... Napoléon I, Emperor of the French (born Napoleone di Buonaparte, changed his name to Napoléon Bonaparte)[1] (15 August 1769; Ajaccio, Corsica – 5 May 1821; Saint Helena) was a general during the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from... is the 80th day of the year (81st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1804 was a leap year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... For other uses of civil law, see civil law. ... The Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis is a civil code enacted in the Duchy of Bavaria in 1756. ... For other uses, see Bavaria (disambiguation). ... The Allgemeines Landrecht fur die Koeninglische Prussischen Staaten, often abbreviated to ALR, was an important civil code of Prussia, promulgated in 1794. ... For other uses, see Prussia (disambiguation). ... The West Galician code was a civil code created in the 18th century and introduced in West Galicia, prior to the introduction of ABGB. It contained little in the way of solving feudal-class problems and was based on the laws of nature. ... Galicia (Ukrainian: Галичина (Halychyna), Polish: Galicja, German: Galizien, Slovak: Halič, Romanian: Galiţia, Hungarian: Gácsország) is the name of a region of Central Europe. ... In law, codification is the process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction in certain areas, usually by subject, forming the legal code. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      The rule of law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. ...

Contents

History

The Napoleonic Code was based on earlier French laws as well as Roman law, and followed Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis in dividing civil law into: Using the term Roman law in a broader sense, one may say that Roman law is not only the legal system of ancient Rome but the law that was applied throughout most of Europe until the end of the 18th century. ... This article is about the Roman emperor. ... Justinian I depicted on a mosaic in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy The Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) is the modern name[1] for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Byzantine Emperor. ...

  1. personal status;
  2. property;
  3. acquisition of property.

Napoleon set out to reform the French legal system in accordance with the principles of the French Revolution because the old feudal and royal laws seemed to be confusing and contradictory to the people. Before the Code, France did not have a single set of laws; laws depended on local customs, and often on exemptions, privileges and special charters granted by the kings or other feudal lords. During the Revolution the vestiges of feudalism were abolished, and the many different legal systems used in different parts of France were to be replaced by a single legal code, whose writing Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès had been charged to lead. However, due to the turmoils of war and unrest, the situation did not much advance until Napoleon's era ensured more stability and Cambacérès, then Second Consul under Napoleon, could work in a more serene manner. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on... For other uses, see Law (disambiguation). ... This article is about permission granted by law or other rules. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, Duke of Parma, (18 October 1753 - 8 March 1824), French lawyer and statesman, is best remembered as the author of the Code Napoléon, which still forms the basis of French law. ... Originally, three equal Consuls made up the government established by Napoleon Bonaparte after the coup of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799), which established the Consulate in France (1799-1804). ...


Developing out of the various customs of France, notably the Coutume de Paris, this recodification process was inspired by Justinian's codified Roman law. The development of the Code was a fundamental change in the nature of the civil law legal system; it made laws much clearer. The reaction of the Civil Code and other subsequent codes resulted in considerable debate within France's legislative bodies. In law, custom can be described as the established patterns of behavior that can be objectively verified within a particular social setting. ... Using the term Roman law in a broader sense, one may say that Roman law is not only the legal system of ancient Rome but the law that was applied throughout most of Europe until the end of the 18th century. ... For other uses of civil law, see civil law. ...


In ancien régime France, law courts, known as the Parlements, had often taken up a legislative role by judges protesting royal decisions – to protest excesses of royal power or, in some occasions, in order to defend the privileges of the social classes to which the judges belonged. The latter was especially true in the final years before the Revolution. As a result, the French Revolution took a negative view of judges making law. This is reflected in the Napoleonic Code prohibiting judges from passing judgments exceeding the matter that is to be judged, because general rules are the domain of the law, a legislative, not judicial, power. In theory, there is thus no case law in France. However, the courts still had to fill the gaps in the laws and regulations; thus a large body of jurisprudence was born; while there is no rule of stare decisis (binding precedent), the decisions by important courts have become more or less equivalent to case law. Ancien Régime, a French term meaning Former Regime, but rendered in English as Old Rule, Old Order, or simply Old Regime, refers primarily to the aristocratic social and political system established in France under the Valois and Bourbon dynasties. ... This article is for the Ancien Régime institution. ... A legislature is a governmental deliberative body with the power to adopt laws. ... Case law (also known as decisional law) is that body of reported judicial opinions in countries that have common law legal systems that are published and thereby become precedent, i. ... For the jurisprudence of courts, see Case law. ... Stare decisis (Latin: , Anglicisation: , to stand by things decided) is a Latin legal term, used in common law systems to express the notion that prior court decisions must be recognized as precedents, according to case law. ...


Contents of the code

The preliminary article of the Code established certain important provisions regarding to the rule of law. Laws could only be applied if they had been duly promulgated, and if they had been published officially (including provisions for publishing delays, given the means of communication available at the time); thus no secret laws were authorized. It prohibited ex post facto laws (i.e. laws that apply to events that occurred before them). The code also prohibited judges from refusing justice on grounds of insufficiency of the law — thereby encouraging them to interpret the law. It, however, prohibited judges from passing general judgments of a legislative value, see above. The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      The rule of law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. ... An ex post facto law (Latin for from a thing done afterward), also known as a retrospective law, is a law that is retroactive, i. ...


With regard to family, the Code established the supremacy of the husband with respect to the wife and children; this was the general legal situation in Europe at the time. It, however, allowed divorce on relatively liberal basis compared to other European countries, including divorce by mutual consent. Following chapters discuss various aspects of property. Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse. ...


Other French codes of Napoleon's era

Penal Code

In 1791, Jacob Fox had presented a new criminal code to the national Constituent Assembly. He explained that it outlawed only "true crimes" and not "phony offenses, created by superstition, feudalism, the tax system, and [royal] despotism." He did not list the crimes "created by superstition" (meaning the Christian religion), but these certainly included blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege, and witchcraft. All these former offenses were swiftly decriminalized. In 1810, a new criminal code was issued under Napoleon. As the preceding one, and probably under Cambacérès' influence, it did not contain revisions against religious crimes or same-sex acts. For other uses, see Christian (disambiguation). ... Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, Duke of Parma, (18 October 1753 - 8 March 1824), French lawyer and statesman, is best remembered as the author of the Code Napoléon, which still forms the basis of French law. ...


Code of Civil Procedure

As the entire legal system was being overhauled, the Code of Civil Procedure was adopted in 1806.


Commercial Code

The Commercial Code was adopted in 1807. *[[1]]


Code of Criminal Instructions

In 1808, a "Code of Criminal Instruction" (Code d'instruction criminelle) was published. This code laid out criminal procedure. The parlement system from before the Revolution had been guilty of much abuse; the criminal courts established by the Revolution were a complex and ineffective system, subject to many local pressures. The genesis of this code resulted in much debate. The resulting code is the basis of the modern so-called "inquisitorial system" of criminal courts, used in France and many civil law countries — though, of course, it has significantly changed since Napoléon's days (especially, with improvements of the right of the defense). Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... This article is for the Ancien Régime institution. ... An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in determining the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is solely that of an impartial referee between parties. ... For other uses of civil law, see civil law. ...


The French Revolution's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen had declared that suspects were presumed to be innocent until they had been declared to be guilty by a court of law. A concern of Bonaparte's was the possibility of arbitrary arrest, or excessive remand (imprisonment prior to a trial). Bonaparte remarked that care should be taken to preserve personal freedoms especially when the case was before the Imperial Court: "these courts would have a great strength, they should be prohibited from abusing this situation against weak citizen without connections." However, remand still was the normal procedure for suspects of severe crimes, such as murder. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: Revolutionary patriotism borrows familiar iconography of the Ten Commandments Wikisource has original text related to this article: Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (French: La... This article is about courts of law. ... A prisoner who is denied, refused or unable to meet the conditions of bail, or who is unable to post bail, may be held in a prison on remand until their criminal trial. ...


The possibility for justice to endorse lengthy remand periods was one reason why the Napoleonic Code was criticized for de facto presumption of guilt, particularly in common law countries. However, the legal proceedings certainly did not have de jure presumption of guilt; for instance, the juror's oath explicitly recommended that the jury did not betray the interests of the defendants, and took attention of the means of defense. De facto is a Latin expression that means in fact or in practice. It is commonly used as opposed to de jure (meaning by law) when referring to matters of law or governance or technique (such as standards), that are found in the common experience as created or developed without... Presumption of innocence is a legal right that the accused in criminal trials has in many modern nations. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Look up De jure in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The rules governing court proceedings, by today's standards, probably gave too much power to the prosecution; it must be said, however, that criminal justice in European countries in those days tended to side with repression. For instance, it was only in 1836 that prisoners charged with a felony were allowed to have counsel (i.e. a lawyer) in England (the Prisoners' Counsel Act)[2]. In comparison, article 294 of the Napoleonic Code of Criminal Procedure allowed the defendant to have a lawyer before the Court of Assizes (judging felonies), and mandated the court to appoint him a lawyer if he did not have one (failure to do so rendered the proceedings null). For the record label, see Felony Records The term felony is a term used in common law systems for very serious crimes, whereas misdemeanors are considered to be less serious offenses. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... For the fish called lawyer, see Burbot. ...


Whether or not the assize courts, whose task was to judge severe crimes, were to operate with a jury was a topic of considerable controversy; Bonaparte supported judgment juries, and they were finally adopted. On the other hand, Bonaparte was opposed to the indictment jury ("grand jury" in common law countries) and preferred to give this task to the criminal section of the Court of Appeal. Some special courts were created for the judgment of criminals who could intimidate the jury. The Courts of Assize, or Assizes, is the name of criminal courts in several countries. ... For jury meaning makeshift, see jury rig. ... In the common law legal system, an indictment (IPA: ) is a formal accusation of having committed a criminal offense. ... In the American common law legal system, a grand jury is a type of jury which determines if there is enough evidence for a trial. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Court of Appeals is the title of certain appellate courts in various jurisdictions. ... Intimidation is the act of making others do what one wants through fear. ...


Bonaparte also insisted that the courts judging civil and criminal cases should be the same, if only to give them more prestige. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... For other uses, see Crime (disambiguation). ...


Codes in other countries

Even though the Napoleonic Code was not the first civil code and did not represent the whole of his empire, it was one of the most influential. It was adopted in many countries occupied by the French during the Napoleonic Wars and thus formed the basis of the private law systems also of Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and their former colonies. In the German regions on the left bank of the Rhine (Rhenish Palatinate and Prussian Rhine Province) the Napoleonic code was in use until the introduction of the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch in 1900 as the first common civil code for the entire German Empire. A civil code is a systematic compilation of laws designed to comprehensively deal with the core areas of private law. ... Combatants Austria[a] Portugal Prussia[a] Russia[b] Sicily[c] Sardinia  Spain[d]  Sweden[e] United Kingdom French Empire Holland[f] Italy Etruria[g] Naples[h] Duchy of Warsaw[i] Confederation of the Rhine[j] Bavaria Saxony Westphalia Württemberg Denmark-Norway[k] Commanders Archduke Charles Prince Schwarzenberg Karl Mack... The Palatinate (German: Pfalz), historically also Rhenish Palatinate (German: Rheinpfalz), is a region in south-western Germany. ... For other uses, see Prussia (disambiguation). ... The Rhineland (Rheinland in German) is the general name for the land on both sides of the river Rhine in the west of Germany. ... Publication in the Reich Law Gazette on August 24, 1896 The Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (or BGB) is the civil code of Germany. ... For German colonial territories, see German Colonial Empire. ...


Napoleonic Code was also adopted in 1864 in Romania (with some modifications), which is still in force as of 2006 (articles 461 to 1914). Other codes with some influence in their own right were the Swiss, German and Austrian ones, but even there some influence of the French code can be felt, as the Napoleonic Code is considered the first successful codification. Thus, the civil law systems of the countries of modern continental Europe, with the exception of Russia and the Scandinavian countries have, to different degrees, been influenced by the Napoleonic Code. (The legal systems of the United Kingdom other than Scotland, as well as Ireland and the Commonwealth, are derived from the English common law rather than from Roman roots. Scots law, though also a civil law system, is uncodified; it is strongly influenced by Romano-Dutch legal thought, and after the Act of Union 1707 by English law.) The Code has thus been the most permanent legacy of Napoleon. For other uses, see Scandinavia (disambiguation). ... This article is about the country. ... Scots law is a unique legal system with an ancient basis in Roman law. ... The Acts of Union were twin Acts of Parliament passed in 1707 (taking effect on 26 March) by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. ...


The term "Napoleonic code" is also used to refer to legal codes of other jurisdictions that are influenced by the French Code Napoleon, especially the civil code of Quebec, which was derived from the Coutume de Paris, which the British continued to use in Canada following the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Most of the laws in Latin American countries are also heavily based in the Napoleonic Code, such as the Chilean Civil Code and the Puerto Rican Civil Code. Despite being surrounded by Anglo-Saxon Common Law territories, Louisiana's civil code has kept its Roman roots and some of its aspects feature influences by the Napoleonic Code, but is based more on Roman and Spanish civil traditions. As a result, the bar exam and legal standards of practice in Louisiana are significantly different from other states, and reciprocity for lawyers from other states is not available. The Napoleonic Code was then put to an end in 1890. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about the Canadian province. ... The Treaty of Paris, often called the Peace of Paris, or the Treaty of 1763, was signed on February 10, 1763, by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement. ... Latin America consists of the countries of South America and some of North America (including Central America and some the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ...


Cultural References

The Napoleonic Code is famously referred to in Tennessee Williams's play and Elia Kazan's filmed version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Stanley Kowalski refers to the Napoleonic Code to justify his right to Blanche & Stella DuBois's family estate of which he just learned was sold. He is convinced Blanche has used the proceeds from the sale of the estate to purchase expensive personal items, which is why he searches through her things. Generally, he interprets the Code as "What's yours is mine" because he's married to Stella. It is also referred to in James Clavell's "Whirlwind" (p155) as an excuse for consumption of alcohol on a Muslim (Iranian) oil rig; it being French managed and therefore subject to the "Code Napoleon". In the novel, and subsequent film, Maurice there is mention that nations with the Napoleonic code did not make homosexual relations between consenting adults in private a crime. Thomas Lanier Williams III (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983), better known by the pseudonym Tennessee Williams, was a major American playwright and one of the prominent playwrights of the twentieth century. ... This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ... Elia Kazan, (Greek: Ηλίας Καζάν, IPA: ), (September 7, 1909 – September 28, 2003) was a Greek-American film and theatre director, film and theatrical producer, screenwriter, novelist and cofounder of the influential Actors Studio in New York in 1947. ... A Streetcar Named Desire is an Academy Award-winning 1951 film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams. ... Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), with Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois Stanley Kowalski is a character in Tennessee Williamss play A Streetcar Named Desire. ... James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell (10 October 1924 – 7 September 1994) was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II hero and POW. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with such films as The Great Escape... Whirlwind is a novel by James Clavell, first published in 1986. ... Maurice is a 1987 film based on the novel of the same title by E. M. Forster. ...


See also

A civil code is a systematic compilation of laws designed to comprehensively deal with the core areas of private law. ... The Concordat of 1801 reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church as the major religion of France and restored some of its civil status. ...

References

  • G.Levasseur, Napoléon et l’élaboration des codes répressifs (Mélanges en homme à Jean Imbert, PUF, 1989 p.371): Legal analysis of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Code Pénal and Code d'Instruction Criminelle ([3] has later versions, with the modifications indicated).

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Napoleonic Code, French Law, and Civil Code (5077 words)
The original Napoleonic Code, or Code Napoléon (originally called the Code civil des français, or civil code of the French), was the French civil code, established at the behest of Napoléon I.
Other codes with some influence in their own right were the Swiss, German and Austrian ones, but even there some influence of the French code can be felt, as the Napoleonic Code is considered the first successful codification.
The term "Napoleonic code" is also used to refer to legal codes of other jurisdictions that are derived from the French Code Napoleon, especially the civil code of Quebec.
SparkNotes: Napoleonic Europe (1799-1815): The Consulate (1799-1804) (1327 words)
On June 1800, Napoleon led the French army against the Austrians at the battle of Marengo and emerged with a staggering victory.
Napoleon stabilized French currency by creating the Bank of France, and he simplified the tangle of French law by producing the Napoleonic Code.
Napoleon was born in 1769 on the island of Corsica, a former Genoan island in the Mediterranean that had recently been handed over to the French.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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