The Napoleonic Code 1804
Napoléon Bonaparte (1769–1821)
After four years of deliberation and planning, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte enacts the “Napoleonic Code,” a new legal foundation for France.
The civil code was the first comprehensive collection of rules governing property, colonial affairs, the family, and individual rights in post-revolutionary France.
As the new dictator of France, General Napoleon Bonaparte began the difficult process of reforming the country’s old and confusing legal system in 1800. He formed a special committee, chaired by J.J. Cambaceres, that convened over 80 times to debate the revolutionary legal amendments, with Napoleon presiding over about half of the meetings. The Napoleonic Code was ultimately passed in March 1804.
It defined various disciplines of law, including commercial and criminal law, as well as dividing civil law into property and family categories. The Napoleonic Code strengthened men’s dominance over their families, stripped women of their independent rights, and limited the rights of illegitimate offspring.
Equal legal rights and the right to religious dissent were also extended to all male citizens, but colonial slavery was reinstated. The regulations were enacted in all of Napoleon’s lands and had an impact on numerous other European nations as well as South America.
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)