Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Napoleonic Code

First page of the 1804 original edition

The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon (originally, the Code civil des français) — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified.[1]
It was drafted rapidly by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on March 21, 1804.  The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. Historian Robert Holtman regards it as one of the few documents that have influenced the whole world.
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, 1794) and the West Galician Code (Galicia, then part of Austria, 1797). It was, however, the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars.

“I pulled out some old cherry trees this forenoon.  Went down to John McPherson’s this afternoon.  Lettie and I went up to Wm Robbins and spent the evening.  A little showery this forenoon but cleared off quite pleasant and warm this afternoon.”

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