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Code Civil

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Corpus of French laws governing the person and property, initially published in 1804 and known after 1807 as the Code Napoléon. The french revolution of 1789 had laid the groundwork for legal reform by sweeping away the more than 400 law codes in force under the ancien regime . Yet it had made little progress towards the goal, enunciated by the constituent assembly in December 1791, of providing France with a single unified system. As with so many aspects of government, napoleon i took over and brought to fruition what the Revolution had started, appointing a commission of four to complete the task, and personally supervising much of the final work. As a result, the Code bore a Napoleonic imprint. It tended to be conservative, a trait best exemplified by its sanctification of property and the treatment it afforded to women (see gender ), who were subject to the authority of the male head of the household. The Code, or some version of it, was imposed or adopted by most of the territories that came under sustained Napoleonic domination, and in this way proved immensely influential outside the borders of France. The Code Civil was succeeded by the Code of Civil Procedure (1806), the Commercial Code (1807), the Criminal Code (1808), and the Penal Code (1810). A Rural Code was drafted but never implemented. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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