The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

19

GOVERNING THE EMPIRE

The Civil Code, March 1803-March 1804

Napoleon brought to completion a project dear to the hearts of the revolutionaries, the drafting of new law codes. The Civil Code was the most important of a number of codes (civil procedure, commercial, criminal, penal, rural) because it institutionalised equality under the law (at least for adult men), guaranteed the abolition of feudalism and, not least, gave the nation one single code of law replacing the hundreds in effect in 1789. Although not of his making, Napoleon nevertheless presided over more than half of the one hundred sessions of the Council of State that took place over the three years it took to finalise the code, thereby imprinting it with his own personal values. There was nothing unusual about them, however. They were widely accepted throughout France. The Code thus institutionalised the subservience of women in marriage and of workers in their places of employment. Divorce was still allowed (it had been established in 1792), but under conditions that were very unfavourable to wives.


BOOK I OF THE RIGHTS AND RESPECTIVE DUTIES OF HUSBAND AND WIFE

212 Husband and wife mutually owe each other fidelity, succour and assistance.

213 The husband owes protection to his wife, the wife obedience to her husband.

214 The wife is obliged to live with her husband, and to follow him wherever he may think proper to dwell: the husband is bound to receive her, and to furnish her with everything necessary for the purposes of life, according to his means and condition.

215 The wife cannot act in law without the authority of the husband, even where she shall be a public trader, or not in community, or separate in property….

-155-

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien Régime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the Vendée 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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