The first modern codification of French civil law, issued between 1804 and 1810, which sought, under the direction of J. J. Cambacérès, to reorganize the French legal system. Napoleon himself presided over the commission drafting the laws, which drew deeply on the philosophical heritage of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the articles of the laws representing a compromise between revolutionary principles and the ancient Roman (i.e. civil) law upon which much European law was based. The code enshrines the principles of equality, the separation of civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions, and the freedom of the individual. With its compressed legislative style (the entire law of tort is set out in five articles), the Code represents perhaps the pinnacle of the codification achievement; versions of it were adopted in various European countries, and later spread through colonization to Latin America and parts of Africa. It was revised in 1904, and has remained the basis of French private law.
Subjects: World History — Literature.