Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Today in 1804, The Napoleonic Code Went Into Effect

The Napoleonic Code is the French civil code established under Napoléon I. It was drafted by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force today, March 21, in 1804. It is one of the earliest western codes of law to decriminalize same-sex activity.

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.

Openly gay Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès led this drafting process. 

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 Napoleonic Code influenced developing countries outside Europe, especially in the Middle East, attempting to modernize their countries through legal reforms

The "Code Napoleon" is mentioned in E. M. Forster's posthumously published novel, Maurice (1971), with reference to France being a safe haven for gay men or, as Maurice puts it, "unspeakable(s) of the Oscar Wilde type."

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