On this day in 1804 – The Napoleonic Code (originally, the Code civil des Français) become French law.
When Napoleon became dictator of France in 1799 one of his first challenges was to revamp France’s outdated, confusing and very partial laws concerning property, the family, and individual rights. Prior to the code, French law consisted mainly of local customs, assembled in customals (or coutumes). These customals differed from region to region and invariably contained exemptions and privileges to individuals granted by previous kings or feudal lords.
Napoleon wanted a singular law to reflect the ideas of The French Revolution. In 1800, a commission of four eminent jurists was appointed. Chaired by Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès, and sometimes by Napoleon himself, the process of bringing the law in line with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was begun. When completed, the last vestiges of feudalistic France would be gone.
There would no longer be any “Secret Laws” (laws enacted without any knowledge of the populous), or any ex post faco laws (laws that apply to events that occurred prior to their enactment) or laws written in any language other than French. The code that addressed these and so many other issues has undergone many revisions but is still in use today. It was also a powerful document influencing the governments of emerging nations during and after the Napoleonic Wars as well as being the basis of law for the State of Louisiana.
The Historical Inebriant: The Napoleon
- 2oz Gin
- 1/2oz Grand Mariner
- 1/2oz Dubonnet Rouge
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.