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Napoleonic Code

In 1800, General Napoleon Bonaparte was the new dictator and emperor of France. He had the difficult task of revising France's outdated legal system. He established a special commission, which met more than 80 times to discuss and debate the revolutionary legal revision. Napoleon presided over nearly half of these sessions. Four years later, the Napoleonic Code was finally approved.

This new legal framework for France gave post-revolutionary France its first comprehensive set of laws concerning property, colonial affairs, the family, and individual rights. It codified several branches of law, including commercial and criminal law, and it 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. 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.


Source: Napoleonic Code
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