Course description

This course offers an introduction to French legal culture through a historical exposition of the genesis of French law, its redefinition in 1789, and its transformations since then. Following the main stages of French legal history (from the Lex Salica, in the early 6th century, through mediaeval customs and Roman law, to the Napoleonic codes and the contemporary influence of European rules), the course focuses on the sources and the essential features of French law at each time.

The plan of the course follows a chronological line, with two big periods, separated by the French Revolution of 1789 :

Part 1 – The genesis of French Law (from Clovis to the Revolution)

1 – Laws in the Regnum Francorum

2 – Mediaeval diversity: customs and learned laws

3 – A kingdom without a constitution? (Public law in ancient France)

4 – Customs and jus scriptum

5 – Royal legislation: from reformation to codification

Part 2 – The transformations of French law since the Revolution

1 – The era of written constitutions

2 – Revolutionary legislation (“intermediary law”)

3 – The Napoleonic codes

4 – “Beyond the code” (new laws for a new society under the Third Republic)

5 – French law since World War II

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