Code Napoléon


Also found in: Dictionary, Legal, Wikipedia.

Code Napoléon

(kôd näpôlāôN`) or

Code Civil

(sēvēl`), first modern legal codecode,
in law, in its widest sense any body of legal rules expressed in fixed and authoritative written form. A statute thus may be termed a code. Codes contrast with customary law (including common law), which is susceptible of various nonbinding formulations, as in the legal
..... Click the link for more information.
 of France, promulgated by Napoleon I in 1804. The work of J. J. Cambacérès and a commission of four appointed by Napoleon I in 1800 was important in making the final draft. The Code Napoléon embodied the private law of France (i.e., law regulating relations between individuals) and, as modified by amendments, it is still in force in that country. It is a revised form of the Roman lawRoman law,
the legal system of Rome from the supposed founding of the city in 753 B.C. to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in A.D. 1453; it was later adopted as the basis of modern civil law.
..... Click the link for more information.
, i.e., the civil lawcivil law,
as used in this article, a modern legal system based upon Roman law, as distinguished from common law. Civil law is based on written legal codes, a hallmark of the Roman legal system, in which disputes were settled by reference to a written legal code arrived at
..... Click the link for more information.
, which prevailed generally on the Continent. It shows, of course, many specific French modifications, some based on the Germanic lawGermanic laws,
customary law codes of the Germans before their contact with the Romans. They are unknown to us except through casual references of ancient authors and inferences from the codes compiled after the tribes had invaded the Roman Empire.
..... Click the link for more information.
 that had been in effect in N France. The code follows the Institutes of the Roman Corpus Juris CivilisCorpus Juris Civilis
, most comprehensive code of Roman law and the basic document of all modern civil law. Compiled by order of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, the first three parts appeared between 529 and 535 and were the work of a commission of 17 jurists presided over by the
..... Click the link for more information.
 in dividing civil law into personal status (e.g., marriage), property (e.g., easements), and the acquisition of property (e.g., wills), and it may be regarded as the first modern analogue to the Roman work. Not only was it applied by Napoleon to the territories under his control—N Italy, the Low Countries, and some of the German states—but it exerted a strong influence on Spain (and ultimately on the Latin American countries) and on all European countries except England. It was the forerunner, in France and elsewhere, of codifications of the other branches of law, including civil procedure, commercial law, and criminal law. Quebec prov. and the state of Louisiana owe much of their law to the Code Napoléon. In addition to the Code Civil, Napoleon was responsible for four other codes: the Code of Civil Procedure (1807), Commercial Code (1808), Code of Criminal Procedure (1811), and the Penal Code (1811).