Historical Importance of Civil Codes and Laws

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Amy Webb
HIS 121-02
WESTERN CIVILIZATION I
Fall, 2011

Historical Importance of Civil Codes and Laws

When studying history we must consider the importance of law. Before there was written word, and set guides for what we consider civil behavior, there was no way for a civilization to grow under a centralized government with set laws and order to influence the actions of its population. When a crime was committed there was no set punishment. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (KJV Bible, Romans 4:15). Historically civil code and laws have set forth social order, encouraged education of the population and provided for identity of class and gender. The first known set of written laws, or code of conduct was the Code of Hammurabi. Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylon who, during the beginning of his reign, invaded and took over neighboring cities. After several years, the population of Babylon had become dense. With so many civilians a written law needed to be created if the king was going to be able to expand and rule over the population. The Code of Hammurabi contains almost 300 clauses, and was written so that there would be a set standard of justice throughout the region. The laws had specific punishments that were to be given if the laws were broken. While Hammurabi’s Code set forth ideally with an “eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”, it also give higher punishments to the crimes against those considered important, verses crimes against those seemingly less significant. It did, however make provisions for the poor and the weak, providing protection for women and slaves. This written law gave King Hammurabi rule over a greater population and allowed his government to influence not only the professional, but also the personal lives of its population. Written law demanded an order that, if broken, had set punishments for its citizens and gave enforcement privileges to those enforcing law and order. Not only...
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