The Code Napoleon Essay by Britts

The Code Napoleon
This paper discusses the Code Napoleon, known as the French Civil Code, and its role in the unification of the revolutionary France and the Empire.
# 65251 | 1,820 words | 16 sources | MLA | 2003 | US
Published on May 01, 2006 in Political Science (Non-U.S.) , History (European - 19th century)

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This paper explains that Napoleon firmly believed that Frenchmen needed equality more than liberty; he saw the codification of the laws as a means of giving stability to both the French economy and society. The author states that the Code Napoleon is written in clear and concise language and seeks to strike a balance between Roman and customary law by blending the egalitarian principles of the Revolution in regards to individual rights with the conservative views of Roman law regarding property rights. The paper relates that the Declaration de Saint-Owen guaranteed the retention of Napoleon's Code as the law of France; however, (1) of the countries of the Empire, only the Belgian provinces and the Rhineland retained the civil code completely intact, (2) Holland, Italy and Portugal modeled their national codes upon it and (3) Spain, several South American countries, the State of Louisiana and French Canada would all later adopt large portions of the Napoleonic Code into their own codes.

From the Paper:

"Prior to the French Revolution, French law was divided chiefly between two systems: Roman law (which had changed little since the Justinian Code (533 AD)) was paramount in the southern two-fifths of France; and Teutonic Customary law in the northern provinces with the dividing line running generally along the river Loire. Some attributes of customary law existed in the south, and traces of Roman law could be found in the Northern provinces. In the north there were over sixty regional variations of the customary law in existence; in addition to the over three hundred local variations which combined the regional law with the unique local customs of the region. "Voltaire was not exaggerating when he said that in France the traveler changed laws as often as he changed horses.""

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