Civil Code or Code Napoleon
longest lasting effect of Napoleon Bonaparte's rule over France
was his overseeing the implementation of a series of national laws
collectively known as the Civil Code, or Code Napoleon.
included the Codes of Civil Procedure, Commercial Law (1807), Penal
Code (1810) and Criminal Procedure (1808).
wanted to replace a series of existing laws - that varied in each
French province - and replace them with a standard code for all
had already reformed the French taxation system bringing to his
imperial coffers almost 700 million francs annually. The sources
for the money came from taxes on income and a series of levies on
goods - such as wine, tobacco and salt.
1800 he added to his overhaul of the financial system by creating
the Bank of France.
did not play a part in its formation, which was handled by an official
commission from 1801, nor did he look many of the 2281 suggested
laws before they had been debated by the Council of State.
once that had happened Napoleon focused his attentions on it and
used his exceptional administrative talents to influence its overall
principal tenet of the Civil Code was that every French person was
equal before the law.
was a boon for many, however, while he took the religious aspect
out of divorce, many of his views did limit Revolution-founded freedoms
example women were not allowed to independently trade in chattels
or property, but had to ask their husbands before they did so.
tightened divorce laws and fathers were empowered as rulers of their
homes. They could ban children from inheritance and also imprison
children for a month.
showed great foresight in beginning a programme of public works
that included building canals, harbours and made roads better and
safer by improving their condition and cracking down on brigands.
was improved for many, although the majority of children did not
gain benefit from his new specialised and high schools. He encouraged
the creation of private schools and sowed the seeds of community-wide
one to accept criticism well, Napoleon cracked down on the press,
censoring newspapers and eventually closing down all but a few.
Civil Code was officially enacted in 1804 and in 1807 was renamed
Code Napoleon. It applied to all French domains and territories
as well as being adopted by countries within the sphere of French
the Civil Code forms the basis of many European legal systems.