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(1) In France and England, the designation for royal edicts. They appeared in France in the 12th century, but until the mid-13th century were applied on the domains of feudal seigneurs only with the consent of the latter. In the 15th century, parliaments began to register ordinances, in order to invest them with the force of law. They were issued until the French Revolution and then again during the Restoration.

In England, beginning with the 13th century, ordinances were legal acts which, unlike the statutes issued by Parliament, contained royal edicts not requiring parliamentary approval. Their relation to the statutes was a subordinate, secondary one. In 1537 ordinances were made equal in juridical power to the statutes.

(2) In a number of foreign states, the designation for legal acts passed by higher legislative and executive bodies.

References in classic literature ?
It was an ordinance of the Republic One and Indivisible of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death, that on the door or doorpost of every house, the name of every inmate must be legibly inscribed in letters of a certain size, at a certain convenient height from the ground.
How unwise, therefore, must be every such self-denying ordinance as serves to prohibit a nation from making use of its own citizens in the manner best suited to its exigencies and circumstances
For this reason, that convention which passed the ordinance of government, laid its foundation on this basis, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments should be separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time.
But a wise ordinance of Nature has decreed that, in proportion as the working-classes increase in intelligence, knowledge, and all virtue, in that same proportion their acute angle (which makes them physically terrible) shall increase also and approximate to the comparatively harmless angle of the Equilateral Triangle.
Having provided themselves with a wagon, and a number of empty casks, they sally off, armed with their rifles, into the wilderness, directing their course east, west, north, or south, without any regard to the ordinance of the American government, which strictly forbids all trespass upon the lands belonging to the Indian tribes.
But we may not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's sword, or like unto it; that is, to propagate religion by wars, or by sanguinary persecutions to force consciences; except it be in cases of overt scandal, blasphemy, or intermixture of practice against the state; much less to nourish seditions; to authorize conspiracies and rebellions; to put the sword into the people's hands; and the like; tending to the subversion of all government, which is the ordinance of God.
He expressed his willingness to listen, and she told the story of the baby's illness and the extemporized ordinance.
They came to the hall, on a dark street-corner, ostensibly the quarters of an athletic club, but in reality an institution designed for pulling off fights and keeping within the police ordinance.
There came on them a strong, clear west- wind by ordinance of Zeus and blew from heaven vehemently, that with all speed the ship might finish coursing over the briny water of the sea.
The prefect, amazed at our industrial progress, lent his aid in obtaining the royal ordinance which authorized them, and last year we held our three fairs.
She justifies her action, asserting that she was bound to obey the eternal laws of right and wrong in spite of any human ordinance.
ISLAMABAD -- The Punjab Assembly (PA) witnessed presentation of 11 ordinances amid low attendance of lawmakers on Thursday during 2nd sitting of its ongoing 16th session, says press release issued by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN)