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A few observations by historians on the Napoleonic Code (Submitted by Tom Holmberg)



"General admiration was aroused by the fertility of ideas which Napoleon, although no expert, and younger in years than any of them, developed in examining this proposed legislation, and by his deep insight into the problems involved. In every question, his first preoccupation was to discover whether the law was both just and profitable."
F.N. Kircheisen. NAPOLEON.
"...the codification of French law may well be considered Napoleon's most enduring achievement...that this was achieved was very largely due to Napoleon, who personally participated in many of the meetings of the legal committee of the Council of State, and who ever expected of it a stupendous amount of work..."
M.J. Sydenham. THE FIRST FRENCH REPUBLIC, 1792-1804.
"The Civil Code, ...known after 1807 as the Code Napoleon, bears the stamp of Bonaparte...when the outline of the Civil Code was under examination by the Councilof State, Bonaparte presided personally over about half of the meetings,...his energetic supervision was chiefly responsible for the lightning speed at which a few guiding principles were effectively transformed into a complete code of civil law..."
Martyn Lyons. NAPOLEON BONAPARTE AND THE LEGACY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
"The minutes of the discussions have been published, in a rather edited and digested form, and they testify, as indeed they were intended to do, to the important share Bonaparte took in the final version of the code named after him. To be sure, he did not originate the code, he lacked all technical knowledge of the law and he did not participate in all the discussions...Nevertheless, his extraordinary grasp of the social and political implications of civil law, his strong convictions in these matters, and his ability to illuminate, with a few striking words, the human and social aspects of an abstract legal concept left a deep imprint on the code and, hence, on modern civil law throughout the world."
J. Christopher Herrold. THE AGE OF NAPOLEON
"Without the personal force of Napoleon it may well be said that the Code Civil could never have come into existence....The general interests of the people and the state were ever in his mind in the framing of the Code, and it is not too much to say that his influence stamped itself upon French family life, civil equality, and national security."
Richardson. ADICTIONARY OF NAPOLEON AND HIS TIMES.
"Historians agree that [the Code] is his main claim to fame; a recent biographer call it one of the few documents which have influenced the whole world....Bonaparte served as the catalyst to bring to completion something long desired....Bonaparte appointed the commisiion...He prodded it into action when it lagged...He intervened in the discussion frequently and effectively."
Robert B. Holtman. THE NAPOLEONIC REVOLUTION.
"Aided by the layers Tronchet and Portalis and a team of other experts, Napoleon supervised this massive task [of writing the Civil Code]; between July and Dec. 2,281 articles of the Civil Code were drafted and debated in over 100 sessions of the Council of State, Napoleon finding time to preside at no less than 57 of them in person..."
David Chandler. DICTIONARY OF THE NAPOLEONIC WARS.
"In the eighty-four sessions of the Council of State in which drafts [of the Code] were discussed, Berlier and Thibaudeau, ex-revolutionaries, defended customary law; Napoleon, Portalis and Cambaceres represented the reaction to Roman law....From the strictly legal point of view, Napoleon's contribution was unimportant....But he was the driving force which pushed it through;...Thibaudeau, a reluctant admirer of Napoleon, records that "there was originality and depthin his lightest word.'"
Felix Markham. NAPOLEON AND THE AWAKENING OF EUROPE
The Napoleonoc Code "...confirmed the disappearance of the feudal aristocracy and adopted the social principles of 1789: liberty of the individual, equality before the law, secularization of the state, freedom of conscience, and
freedom to choose one's profession. This is why it swept through Europe as a symbol of the Revolution, and was heralded, wherever it was introduced."
Lefebvre. NAPOLEON.

Linked toEmperor Napoléon I Bonaparte

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