French Penal Code of 1791
The French Penal Code of 1791 was a penal code adopted during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 by the Constituent Assembly
Constituent assembly
A constituent assembly is a body composed for the purpose of drafting or adopting a constitution...

, between 25 September and 6 October 1791. It was France's first penal code, and was influenced by the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 thinking of Beccaria and Montesquieu.

The principle of legality
The principle of legality is the legal ideal that requires all law to be clear, ascertainable and non-retrospective. It requires decision makers to resolve disputes by applying legal rules that have been declared beforehand, and not to alter the legal situation retrospectively by discretionary...

 was foremost in the underlying philosophy of the 1791 Code. In the spirit of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

, Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria
Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria
Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria-Bonesana was an Italian jurist, philosopher and politician best known for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments , which condemned torture and the death penalty, and was a founding work in the field of penology.-Birth and education:Beccaria was born in Milan on March...

 summarized the principles that were to be the foundation of the procedural system. In his words, "every citizen should know what punishment he should endure." As a consequence, the function of the judge was conceived as being strictly distributive: qualification of an act, infliction of the pre-set sanction. This concept was revolutionary in 1791 and clearly departed from the arbitrary processeses of the ancien régime
Ancien Régime in France
The Ancien Régime refers primarily to the aristocratic, social and political system established in France from the 15th century to the 18th century under the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties...

. The Code of 1791 was straightforwar in this respect; most definitions were clear, leaving little power to the interpretation of the judge. This principle was reincorporated in the Napoleonic Penal Code of 1810, which replaced this Code.

The Code did not enforce Catholic morality; there were, for example, no laws against sodomy.
Its sponsor, Louis-Michel le Peletier, presented it to the Constituent Assembly saying that it only punished "true crimes," not the artificial offenses condemned by "superstition."

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.