1. Assess the extent to which the French Revolution changed previously existing French law?
The French Revolution which occurred, during1789–1799, was a time of political and social and more importantly legislative change in the history of France upheaval in the history of France. The French revolution changed the France from a Monarchy to a Republic which it is today. It occurred due to the difference of ideas between the Royal family and the working class people of France. There were various reasons why the two groups of people disliked one another’s approach to the running of the country. Louis XV had fought many battles especially in America and so the country was in huge debt making life difficult for the working people especially the peasants. This also affect the upper class people as the relied on the working class people as a labour force. Widespread unemployment and famine made things worse for the peasants. There was also dislike for the monarchy as the leader of the country was a self-appointed ruler making the country an autocracy. Hatred for the catholic authorities (they had placed taxes on the people which affected the peasants severely) combined with the desire for religious freedom also made the revolution inevitable. The rebellion began when the finance minister was sacked by the king for advising the Royals to reduce their high living standards to save money. The people of Paris saw this as the beginning of an attempt by the Royal family to take full control of the government. This led to the rebellion the most significant event of the revolution which was the storming of the Bastille. This is where the most high profile prisoners were kept as well as munitions etc. Eventually the king and his people backed down and on 4 August 1789 the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism. They tried to replicate the Declaration of Independence that the U.S.A had and produced the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This was a...
Bibliography: J. Bell, S. Boyron and S. Whittaker, Principles of French Law (1998) – Chapter 1, p.22-25
C. Dadomo and S. Farran, The French Legal System (1993) – Chapters 1 and 2
B. Dickson, Introduction to French Law (1993) – Chapter 1
C. Elliott, E. Jeanpierre and C. Vernon, French Legal System, 2nd edn. (2006) - Chapter 1
C. Elliott and C. Vernon, French Legal System (2000) – Chapter 1
A. West et al, The French Legal System (1998), Chapters 1 and 2
K. Zweigert and H. Kotz, Introduction to Comparative Law, Chapters 6 and 7
The Civil Code 1804 (complete, translated into English): http://www.napoleon-series.org/research/government/c_code.html
‘The Civil Code’ by T. Holberg – a good article on the origins, nature and influence of the Civil Code 1804: http://www.napoleon-series.org/research/government/code/c_code2.html
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