Napoleonic Code

The Napoleonic Code (French: Code Napoléon, lit. "Code Napoleon"), officially the Civil Code of the French (French: Code civil des Français; simply referred to as Code civil) is the French civil code established under the French Consulate in 1804 and still in force, although frequently amended.[1]

Civil Code of the French
Code civil des Français
First page of the 1804 original edition.
Corps législatif
CitationCode civil
Territorial extentFrance
Enacted byCorps législatif
Signed byNapoléon Bonaparte
Effective21 March 1804 (1804-03-21)
Introduced byJacques de Maleville
Jean Portalis
Félix Bigot de Préameneu
François Tronchet
Civil Code of the French Republic (1803)
Amended by
Law 2019-222 on 1 September 2020
Status: Amended

It was drafted by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on 21 March 1804.[2] The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. Historian Robert Holtman regards it as one of the few documents that have influenced the whole world.[2]

The Napoleonic Code was not the first legal code to be established in a European country with a civil-law legal system; it was preceded by the Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis (Bavaria, 1756), the Allgemeines Landrecht (Prussia, 1794), and the West Galician Code (Galicia, then part of Austria, 1797). It was, however, the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope, and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars.[2] The Napoleonic Code influenced developing countries outside Europe, especially in Latin America and the Middle East, attempting to modernize and defeudalize their countries through legal reforms.[3]

The Napoleonic Code in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer