On January 28, 2021, foreign Law professional Nicolas Boring debated the Napoleonic Code’s history, evolution, and legacy in an installment of the law Library the Congress’ foreign and also comparative regulation webinar series.

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The webinar questioned the prehistory that the French polite Code, the drafting and adoption, that is contents, and the background of its tremendous influence ~ above the regulations of other nations roughly the globe.


The first edition the the French polite Code, released in Paris in 1804. Photo by Robert Brammer.

In this post, I desire to share with you a couple of images of at an early stage editions the the French civil Code and the password of law it influenced from the law Library’s collections, including its very first publication in France, and then its appearance in pick other countries over time. This images–and more!–can be uncovered in Nicolas’ webinar, which the legislation Library has recorded and posted, and also which you have the right to now watch at your leisure!


An sculpture adorns the title web page of the first edition of the French polite Code. That depicts a female number seated top top the throne the the law, and bearing a sword and a balance, the icons of justice. She is attach by a rooster, a symbol of French national identity, and also a lion, a price of sovereignty. Photograph by Robert Brammer.

As Nicolas mentions in his presentation, Napoleon Bonaparte introduced the French Civil password in 1804 v the on purpose of it spreads widespread a linked synthesis the French law. French law prior to the change reflected a high level of geographical variation, with areas throughout the kingdom upholding various customary legitimate systems. The legislations of some of these areas were eventually compiled and edited in compilations recognized as coutumiers. (The legislation Library owns a an extensive collection of published coutumiers indigenous the 16th and also 17th centuries representing an extensive geographical coverage of this important legal literature.) In enhancement to this, legal solution in the southern part of France showed much more influence from the medieval reception of Roman legislation than those in the northern part of the nation did. Throughout the period of the Enlightenment, intellectuals commonly criticized the diversity the French law and wished to change it with a more rationalistic and uniform legal code. During the at an early stage years the revolutionary France, several attempts to be made to achieve such a reform, but the political instability the the energy of the 1790s do it impossible to attain this goal.


At the finish of 1804, Napoleon had himself crowned together emperor. He subsequently changed the rooster with the eagle together the prize of France to reflect his vision of France’s imperial nature. The engraving on the title web page of this 1807 edition of the polite Code reflects an eagle standing in the facility of Napoleon’s coat of arms. Starting in 1807, the French Civil password was referred to as the Napoleonic Code. Photo by Robert Brammer.

After the Coup that 18–19 Brumaire (November 9–10, 1799), Napoleon Bonaparte remained in a place to create a committee to revolutionary the laws of France. In respectable 1800, Napoleon inserted Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, a close advisor who played a major role in one of the earlier efforts to create a password of law, in charge of a the supervisory board of 4 well-respected jurists to create a breeze of the code. This jurists were François Denis Tronchet, Félix Julien Jean Bigot de Préameneu, Jacques de Maleville, and also Jean-Etienne-Marie Portalis. Portalis had participated with Cambacérès in the failed effort to develop a password in 1796.


The Haitian civil Code, which to be enacted in 1825, is shown here in that is 1826 imprint. That was heavily influenced by the French civil Code. Picture by Robert Brammer.

The commission drafted its suggest Civil password in four to 5 months and then sent duplicates to all the courts of appeals of France, as well as to the Tribunal that Cassation, the predecessor of what is now dubbed the Court of Cassation, for comment. The Conseil d’Etat, or council of State, climate took up conversation of the draft in July 1801. Over 107 sessions were devoted to stating the draft, with Napoleon self presiding end 55 the them, despite having no legit training.


Depicted right here is the Kodex Napoleona (Warsaw, 1808), i m sorry was first adopted in the cool Duchy of Warsaw, and also portions of which remained in force in Poland until 1946. Picture by Robert Brammer.

After a prolonged process in which the legislative branch assemblies embraced the code ar by ar in thirty-six separate laws, the polite Code’s fostering was consolidated right into one regulation on march 21, 1804. The was well-known as the Loi du 30 ventôse an XII, a name the reflected the so-called “republican calendar” that marked the year 1792 as year 1.


The Ethiopian polite Code, additionally influenced by the French polite Code, was enacted in 1960. Picture by Robert Brammer.

Nicolas points out that as Napoleon Bonaparte conquered countries transparent Europe, he spread out the usage of the civil Code through him. Amongst these to be Belgium and also Luxembourg, i beg your pardon France annexed in 1804. Various other nations, such as Germany and also many nations in Latin America, supplied it as a model for their national codes over the course of the 19th century. Nicolas relates especially the instances of Louisiana, Haiti, and also Ethiopia, and also the nations that proficient French colonization.

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