French Legal Codes

The Napoleonic, or Civil Code, has been called by scholars "the most important single repository of French law." When the Code Civil des Français appeared in 1804, it had been fourteen years in the making, but once promulgated, other codes followed in quick succession: civil procedure, commerce, criminal procedure, criminal, and forestier. Drawing its weightiest influence from the coutumes, the Code Civil brought order to what had been the chaotic legal atmosphere of the Ancien Régime. The Library's fine examples of the Code Civil include many editions, plus English, German, Italian and Dutch translations. Also included in the collection are analytical studies of the Code Civil, such as Jacques de Maleville's Analyse Raisonnée de la Discussion du Code Civil (1822), and works derived from contemporary "legislative history" documents such as the Esprit du Code Napoléon (1805-1814) of Baron de Locre. The five later codes also are amply represented in the collection, with numerous editions and translations, including two first official editions of the Code de Procedure Civile (1806). One appealing volume intended for use in everyday practice is Les Six Codes du Royaume (1829), a diminutive work color-coded by subject for easy reference by the attorneys consulting it.