The laws are executory throughout the whole French territory, by virtue of the promulgation thereof made by the First Consul. They shall be executed in every part of the Republic, from the moment at which their promulgation can have been known. The promulgation made by the First Consul shall be taken to be known in the department which shall be the seat of government, one day after the promulgation; and in each of the other departments, after the expiration of the same interval augmented by one day for every ten myriameters (about twenty ancient leagues) between the town in which the promulgation shall have been made, and the chief place of each department.
Louisiana is different than the rest of the United States because of Napoleon Bonaparte and our French tradition. Louisiana law is different because in 1821 it was a very forward-thinking system of justice. But don't make the mistake of thinking that laws based on the Code Napoleon are outdated.
When given a chance to form a system of laws, many new governments have decided to base their system on the very same Napoleonic Code that Louisiana adopted. That was the case with Quebec, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and many Latin American countries.
The Napoleonic Code is a revised version of the Roman law or Civil Law, which predominated in Europe, with numerous French modifications, some of which were based on the Germanic law that had been in effect in northern France. The code draws upon the Institutes of the Roman Corpus Juris Civilis for its categories of the civil law: property rights, such as licenses; the acquisition of property, such as trusts; and personal status, such as legitimacy of birth.
In 1800, Napoléon I appointed a commission of four persons to undertake the task of compiling the Napoleonic Code. Their efforts, along with those of J. J. Cambacérès, were instrumental in the preparation of the final draft. The Napoleonic Code assimilated the private law of France, which was the law governing transactions and relationships between individuals. The Code, which is regarded by some commentators as the first modern counterpart to Roman Law, is currently in effect in France in an amended form.
he Code represented a comprehensive reformation and codification of the French civil laws. Under the ancien regime more than 400 codes of laws were in place in various parts of France, with common law predominating in the north and Roman law in the south. The Revolution overturned many of these laws. In addition, the revolutionary governments had enacted more than 14,000 pieces of legislation. Five attempts were made to codify the new laws of France during the periods of the National Convention and the Directory. Through the efforts of Napoleon the drafting the new Civil Code in an expert commission, in which Jean-Etienne-Marie Portalis took a leading role, took place in the second half of 1801. Napoleon attended in person 36 of the commission's 87 meetings. Although the draft was completed at the end of 1801, the Code was not published until 21 March 1804. The Civil Code represents a typically Napoleonic mix of liberalism and conservatism, although most of the basic revolutionary gains - equality before the law, freedom of religion and the abolition of feudalism - were consolidated within its laws. Property rights, including the rights of the purchasers of the biens nationaux were made absolute. The Code also reinforced patriarchal power by making the husband the ruler of the household. The Napoleonic Code was to be promulgated, with modifications, throughout the Empire. The Civil Code was followed by a Code of Civil Procedure in 1806, a Commercial Code in 1807, a Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure in 1808 and a Penal Code in 1810. A Rural Code was debated, but never promulgated. The Code Napoleon, renamed the Civil Code, was retained in its majority after the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815. The Civil Code has served as the model for the codes of law of more than twenty nations throughout the world.
French civil code enacted in 1804 and still extant, with revisions; it has been the main influence in the 19th-century civil codes of most countries of continental Europe and Latin America.
The demand for codification and, indeed, codification itself preceded the Napoleonic era. Diversity of laws was the dominant characteristic of the prerevolutionary legal order. Roman law governed in the south of France, whereas in the northern provinces, including Paris, a customary law had developed, based largely on feudal Frankish and Germanic institutions.
The categories of the Napoleonic Code were drawn not from earlier French laws but instead from Justinian's sixth-century codification of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis and, within it, the Institutes.
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon (originally, the Code civil des Français) — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified. It was drafted rapidly by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on March 21, 1804. The Napoleonic Code was not the first legal code to be established in a European country with a civil 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). But it was 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. 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.
It codified several branches of law, including commercial and criminal law, and divided civil law into categories of property and family. The Napoleonic Code made the authority of men over their families stronger, deprived women of any individual rights, and reduced the rights of illegitimate children. All male citizens were also granted equal rights under the law and the right to religious dissent, but colonial slavery was reintroduced. The laws were applied to all territories under Napoleon's control and were influential in several other European countries and in South America.
After four years of debate and planning, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte enacts a new legal framework for France, known as the "Napoleonic Code." The civil code gave post-revolutionary France its first coherent set of laws concerning property, colonial affairs, the family, and individual rights.